Heather Douglas Epistemic Value

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 64
  • Published : March 20, 2013
Open Document
Text Preview
For my research paper I chose to reflect on the reading by Heather Douglas and her argument epistemic values must play a role in proper science. Throughout my paper I will explain how the problem of inductive risk as explained by Kuhn and Hempel shapes her view that we must consider non – epistemic consequences as a result from science thus we must weigh non epistemic values as an integral part of science. Douglas also explains how non – epistemic values play a role throughout the stages of science through the collection and deciphering of data. I will provide my reflection of Douglas and where I believe she makes good points and flaws. The first stage of Douglas’ argument is the problem set out by reaching scientific conclusions through the inductive method. Inductive risk is the risk associated when doing science that there is a chance one will be wrong in accepting or rejecting a scientific hypothesis based on the fact we may in fact be wrong or cannot predict future events based on the past. That because no evidence can establish a hypothesis with certainty, acceptance of a hypothesis carries with it inductive risk that the hypothesis may turn out to be wrong. Hempel and Kuhn shared this concern that we can never know anything through the process of induction because what we believe or take for granted to be true, may in fact be false. Douglas is concerned with the risk associated with being wrong in science based on inductive risk. Douglas goes on to claim that since there is the possibility one will be wrong when conducting science, that the individual must weigh the consequences that could stem from being wrong and conduct yourself or your research according to the consequences. Essentially Douglas is saying we have to look at the implications or consequences that could stem from being wrong based on inductive risk and then use non - epistemic values to weigh the consequences and make a decision. Douglas is claiming that scientists should be aware and responsible for the consequences of the science or research they are involved in and thus she is claiming they should be held morally responsible for the consequences of their research. Epistemic consequences can stem from science thus one must weigh non - epistemic values in order to make the right decision according to those consequences. Douglas goes even further to argue that non – epistemic values play a necessary role in science apart from the consequences and values but directly in the process of science. Heather Douglas argues that just as there is inductive risk in accepting theories, there is inductive risk for accepting methodologies, data and interpretations and that non-epistemic values play a legitimate role in the internal stages of science. Douglas’ argument is based around the idea that non – epistemic values are necessary in the integral parts of science because there is a level of subjectivity and evaluation. Firstly non – epistemic values are required when choosing of a methodological approach. In choosing the best methodological approach one must weigh non - epistemic value. She illustrates this with the point of statistical significance. The deliberate choice of a level of statistical significance requires the consideration of which kind of errors one is willing to tolerate. One could achieve false positives or false negatives and it is up to the expert to decide the level of statistical significance required in the consideration of which kind of errors one is willing to tolerate. A false positive occurs when the program mistakenly flags an innocent file as being infected. A False negative is a result that appears negative when it should not. Her claim is one must set the standard of statistical significance. Stricter standards lead to a reduction in the rate of false positives and an increase in the rate of false negatives and vice versa. The laxer the standards the increasing likelihood of false positives and reduction of false negatives. Her...
tracking img