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Sisyphean science: why value freedom is worth pursuing

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Coauthored with Tarun Menon (School of Humanities, National Institute of Advanced Studies, Bengaluru)

The value-free ideal in science has been criticised as both unattainable and undesirable. We argue that it can be defended as a practical principle guiding scientific research even if the unattainability and undesirability of a value-free end-state are granted. If a goal is unattainable, then one can separate the desirability of accomplishing the goal from the desirability of pursuing it. The state with the ideal degree of value involvement cannot be given an independent characterisation, and cannot serve as an action-guiding target, so it can only reliably be attained if scientists treat value-freedom as their goal.

This talk is part of the CamPoS (Cambridge Philosophy of Science) seminar series.

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