Course Identification

Values in Science

Lecturers and Teaching Assistants

Dr. Tamar Schneider

Course Schedule and Location

First Semester
Sunday, 11:15 - 13:00, FGS, Rm C

Field of Study, Course Type and Credit Points

Life Sciences: Lecture; 2.00 points
Life Sciences (ExCLS Track): Elective; 0.00 points







Language of Instruction


Attendance and participation

Required in at least 80% of the lectures

Grade Type

Pass / Fail

Grade Breakdown (in %)

Weekly assignments are very short reading responses

Evaluation Type

Final assignment

Scheduled date 1


Estimated Weekly Independent Workload (in hours)



This class will explore the topic of values in science. Both objectivity and impartiality are known to be the pillars of the scientific method. These heuristics hold the promise of valid and trustworthy scientific knowledge. This way of thinking motivates science as a “value-free” endeavor regarding social, political, and ethical values; this view is still held by many scientists today. However, in the last few decades, it has come under attack by many philosophers of science, particularly feminist philosophers of science. Following such criticism, many philosophers take a positive turn seeking to defend proper roles for values in science to maintain its general framework of objectivity and impartiality. 

Following closely with readings from traditional and most recent philosophical discussions of science and value, we will first examine various challenges to the value-free ideal in science. Then, examine arguments that seek to defend proper (and improper) roles for values in science.

The goals of this course

  1. Introduce some of the major issues concerning science and values.
  2. Encourage the students to critically examine their own beliefs as well as the beliefs of others regarding the connections of values and science.
  3. Provide the students the opportunity to discuss, both in class and in a more sustained written form, their ideas, and arguments concerning important issues in the philosophy of science and values.




Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • Become familiar with key issues and debates in the philosophical debate of science and values;
  • Acquire tools, such as argument analysis and assumption detection, for the evaluation of philosophical claims about the sciences
  • Develop abilities to raise philosophical questions about particular scientific claims or about scientific inquiry in general.
  • Develop abilities to raise philosophical questions about particular scientific claims and inquiry in their chosen scientific field of study.

Reading List

Introduction The so-called “value-free ideal” and the descriptive challenge

Week 1

Chapter 1: Introduction: science Wars and Policy Wars

Chapter 2: The Rise of the Science Advisor

Week 2:

Kuhn 1977 “Objectivity, Value Judgment, and Theory Choice,”

Longino 1983 “Beyond ‘Bad Science’”

Week 3:

Chapter 3: Origins of the Values Free Ideas in Science

Chapter 4: The Moral Responsibility of Scientists

The underdetermination challenge

Week 4:

Longino 1979 “Evidence and Hypothesis”

Intemann 2005 “Feminism, Underdetermination, and Values in Science”

Week 5:

Rooney 1992 “On Values in Science: Is the Epistemic/Non-Epistemic Distinction Useful?”

Longino 1996 “Cognitive and Non-Cognitive Values in Science” The language challenge

The Value Challenges

Week 6:

 Chapter 5: The Structure of Values in Science

Chapter 6: Objectivity on Science

Week 7:

Dupré 2007 “Fact and Value”

Elliott 2009 “The Ethical Significance of Language in the Environmental Sciences”

Week 8:

Douglas 2000 “Inductive Risk and Values in Science”

Betz 2013 “In defense of the value free ideal”

Week 9:

Steel 2010 “Epistemic Values and the Argument from Inductive Risk”

Douglas 2013 “The Value of Cognitive Values”

Distinguishing Roles for Values in Science

Week 10:

Douglas 2009 “The Structure of Values in Science”

Elliott 2011 “Direct and Indirect Roles for Values in Science”

Week 11:

Anderson 2004 “Uses of Value Judgments in Science”

Brown 2013a “Values in Science beyond Underdetermination and Inductive Risk”

Arguing for the Right Values in Science

Week 12:

Chapter7: The Integrity of Science in the Policy Process

Chapter 8: Values and Practice

Week 13:

Kourany 2010 “What Feminist Science Studies Can Offer”

Solomon 2012 “Socially Responsible Science and the Unity of Values”

Week 14:

Brown 2013b “The source and status of values for socially responsible science”

Hicks 2014 “A New Direction for Science and Values”