Here’s my preliminary thoughts on today’s reading, Part I of The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice: Science and Values Revisited, The Play of Values Within the Core Areas of Scientific Research.
First off, let me say, for those of you who made it through all the readings, good work! I realize now that this is one of the tougher sets of readings, in terms of quantity (five essays by separate authors), technical sophistication, and diversity of topics (some intricacies of confirmation theory, the history of biometrics and population genetics, feminist philosophy and politics, images of science, pragmatism, realism, and constructive empiricism, etc.). Most weeks will either be less material, material that is all of a piece, or at a lower level of technicality.
To bring all this together, I want to touch on some main themes and questions in this section. These authors run the gamut from old-fashioned anti-values folks, to fairly nuanced middle positions, to strong advocates for a science entirely inflected with social values. Comparing their views helps to bring out some differing assumptions and approaches.