The past decade has seen an explosion of work from philosophers and other scholars of science on the many respects in which core aspects of scientific research involve non-epistemic values. Philosophers have argued that ethical, political, social, or personal values are needed when managing inductive risk, choosing and defining terms, setting model parameters, creating classification systems, selecting study endpoints, analyzing and summarizing data, and quantifying uncertainty.
Though debate continues concerning precisely which aspects of the scientific research process must or should be value-laden, more attention is now turning to how scientists should make the value judgments their work requires — how they should, for example, choose among alternative definitions of “Covid-caused death”, weigh the importance of different types of error in a climate model, or present the uncertainty in an economic forecast.
Philosophy gives us (at least) two different approaches to making or assessing such value judgments: one grounded in ethics or individual morality, the other grounded in political philosophy. This workshop aims to explore the second approach, asking what it would mean for scientists to make the value judgments their work requires in a way that is politically legitimate, or that would contribute to just political systems.
We welcome abstracts from philosophers of science, political philosophers/theorists, and other scholars interested in the assessment of scientific value judgments from a political perspective on topics such as:
• arguments for or against using a “political” approach (as opposed, for example, to an approach grounded in individual morality) to making or assessing scientific value judgments
• discussion of the challenges (conceptual or practical) involved in implementing a “political” approach to making scientific value judgments
• discussion of some concept from political philosophy/theory (e.g. representation, democracy, public reason, legitimacy, liberty) followed by an exploration of how it might be relevant to the value judgments involved in scientific research
• case studies of value-laden science that might fruitfully be analyzed using concepts, principles, or methods from political philosophy/theory
• explorations of citizen science, science-based policy-making, public understanding of science, public trust in science, science advocacy, science activism, or any other topic at the intersection of political philosophy and the values-in-science literature
Because the values in science literature and the political philosophy literature has, to this point, not seen much overlap, we are eager for submissions from scholars with a background in either field — e.g. a scholar of values in science interested in the relevance of political philosophy to their work, or a political philosopher looking to connect their ideas to scientific research.
Some travel funding will be available to all speakers whose abstracts are selected. A portion of the conference budget will be dedicated to offsetting carbon emissions associated with travel to the event. The organizers expect to be able to make a virtual attendance option available for those unable to travel to southern California. We anticipate, however, that all talks will be given in-person.
Confirmed speakers include: Naomi Oreskes (Harvard) - public keynote; Thomas Christiano (Arizona); Heather Douglas (Michigan State); Kevin Elliott (Michigan State); Alex Guerrero (Rutgers); Wendy Salkin (Stanford); Lucas Stanczyk (Harvard)
Submit abstracts (of approximately 500 words, prepared for anonymous review) for 40-minute sessions (25 minute presentation + 15 minute Q&A) via this Google form by October 1: