Jacob Stegenga (University of Cambridge)

Title: Sisyphean Science: Why Value-Freedom is Worth Pursuing  

Abstract: The value-free ideal in science has been criticised as both unattainable and undesirable. We argue that it can be defended as a practical principle guiding scientific research even if the unattainability and undesirability of a value-free end-state are granted. If a goal is unattainable, then one can separate the desirability of accomplishing the goal from the desirability of pursuing it. We articulate a novel value-free ideal, which holds that scientists should act as if science should be value-free, and we argue that even if a purely value-free science is undesirable, this value-free ideal is desirable to pursue.