The Behavioral Scientist Qua Scientist Makes Value Judgments

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Behavior And Philosophy


I distinguish three matters about which decisions have to be made in scientific activities: (1) adoption of strategy; (2) acceptance of data, hypotheses, and theories; and (3) application of scientific knowledge. I argue that, contrary to the common view that only concerning (3) do values have a legitimate role, value judgments often play indispensable roles in connection with decisions concerning (I)-that certain values may not only be furthered by applications of the scientific knowledge gained under a strategy, but they may also provide a primary reason for conducting research under the strategy. However, this is compatible with making decisions concerning (2) that in no way draw upon values. While, in my opinion, this account applies to all the sciences, it has special salience in the behavioral and cognitive sciences. The behavioral scientist, qua scientist, makes value judgments when making decisions about which strategy to adopt, but not when deciding which theories to accept as providing knowledge and understanding of specified domains of phenomena.

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