Lietuvos mokslo istorikų ir filosofų bendrija

The 29th Baltic Conference on the History of Science

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2021

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2020

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2019

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2018

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2017

Konferencija Scientia et historia – 2016

The 29th Baltic Conference on the History of Science, Vilnius


University of Tartu, Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, Department of Philosophy (Estonia)


Value Recognition through Value Conflicts




In my presentation I will bring into focus a problem of recognizing values influencing science and propose that in the instances of value conflicts we are more acutely aware of the values influencing us. Although, it is generally agreed that values have a role to play in science, the exact nature of this role or which values should be allowed in science is debatable. The value-free science ideal proposes that only epistemic values should be allowed to influence the core epistemic practices of science. Inclusion of non-epistemic values is seen as problematic for scientific objectivity. Advocates of values in science have made a case for the necessity of non-epistemic values in science. Underneath these discussions there is, however, a broader topic that has not been discussed so intensely. This topic is value recognition. Since value recognition is important to both parties of the value debate it merits some discussion. Proponents of value-free science need to recognize and distinguish between epistemic and non-epistemic values as well as to pay attention to the possible interference of non-epistemic values in science. Similarly, proponents of values in science need to be aware of all the relevant values in science and to identify their proper roles. However, it seems that it is taken for granted that scientists are always aware of the values that potentially influence them. In practice this does not seem to be the case. There are many examples from the history of science to indicate that scientists are not always aware of the values influencing them, illegitimately or otherwise. Scientists, as all humans, seem to remain generally blind to the influence of values. The premise of my presentation is that values influencing science come through more vividly in the context of different value conflicts. Therefore, value conflicts can serve as value indicators and investigating value conflicts might uncover valuable information about values influencing science.