Value-free Science?: Purity and Power in Modern Knowledge

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Why have scientists shied away from politics, or defended their work as value free? How has the ideal of neutrality come to dominate the world of science? These are some of the central questions that Robert Proctor addresses in his study of the politics of modern science.

Value-Free Science? emphasizes the importance of understanding the political origins and impact of scientific ideas. Proctor lucidly demonstrates how value-neutrality is a reaction to larger political developments, including the use of science by government and industry, the specialization of professional disciplines, and the efforts to stifle intellectual freedoms or to politicize the world of the academy.

The first part of the book traces the origins of value-neutrality prior to the eighteenth century. Plato and Aristotle saw contemplative thought as superior to practical action, and this separation of theory and practice is still invoked today in defense of "neutral science." In the seventeenth century the Baconian search for useful knowledge allowed a new and closer tie between theory and practice, but it also isolated moral knowledge from natural philosophy. Another version of neutrality was introduced by the mechanical conception of the universe, in which the idea of a benevolent, human-centered cosmos was replaced with a "devalorized" view of nature.

The central part of the book explores the exclusion of politics and morals with the emergence of the social sciences. Proctor highlights the case of Germany, where the ideal of value-neutrality was first articulated in modern form by social scientists seeking to attack or defend Marxism, feminism, and other social movements. He traces the rise and fall of positivist ethical and economic theory, showing that arguments for value-free science often mask concrete political maneuvers. Finally, he reviews critiques of science that have been voiced in recent debates over critical issues in agricultural science, military research, health and medicine, and biological determinism.

This provocative book will interest anyone seeking ways to reconcile the ideals of scientific freedom and social responsibility.

 

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Tartalomjegyzék

Introduction The Dilemma of Science Policy
1
Part One Pure Science and the Baconian Critique
15
The Cosmos as Construct
17
Baconian Caveats Royalist Compromise
25
The Devalorization of Being
39
Secondary Qualities and Subjective Value
53
Part Two The Politics of Neutrality in German Social Theory
63
The German University and the Research Ideal
65
The Social Context of German Social Science
99
Neutral Marxism
121
Max Weber and Wertfreie Wissenschaft
134
Positivism and Its Critics
155
Positive Economics
182
Emotivist Ethics
201
Realism versus Moralism
224
Conclusion Neutrality as Myth Mask Shield and Sword
262

Empirical Science and Specialized Expertise
75
The Werturteilsstreit or Controversy over Values
85

Gyakori szavak és kifejezések

A szerzőről (1991)

Robert N. Proctor is Professor of History and, by courtesy, of Medicine, at Stanford University.

Bibliográfiai információk