Janet Kourany is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame.
In The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice, philosophers, sociologists, and historians of science offer a multidisciplinary view of the complex interrelationships of values in science and society in both contemporary and historic contexts. They analyze the impact of commercialization and politicization on epistemic aspirations, and, conversely, the ethical dilemmas raised by “practically relevant” science in today’s society. For example, much scientific research over the past quarter century has been guided by the financing that supports it. What effect has this had on the quality of research produced and the advancement of real knowledge?
The contributors reveal how social values affect objectivity, theory, and the direction of inquiry, and examine the byproducts of external value systems in topics such as “expertise” and “socially robust knowledge,” among others. They view science’s own internal value systems, the earlier disconnection of societal values from the scientific process, and the plausibility of “value free” science.
The Challenge of the Social and the Pressure of Practice presents an in-depth analysis that places the role of values at the center of philosophical debate and raises questions of morality, credibility, and the future role of values in scientific inquiry.