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Bias in Science: Natural and Social

May, Joshua (2020) Bias in Science: Natural and Social. Synthese. ISSN 1573-0964

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Abstract

Moral, social, political, and other “nonepistemic” values can lead to bias in science, from prioritizing certain topics over others to the rationalization of questionable research practices. Such values might seem particularly common or powerful in the social sciences, given their subject matter. However, I argue first that the well-documented phenomenon of motivated reasoning provides a useful framework for understanding when values guide scientific inquiry (in pernicious or productive ways). Second, this analysis reveals a parity thesis: values influence the social and natural sciences about equally, particularly because both are so prominently affected by desires for social credit and status, including recognition and career advancement. Ultimately, bias in natural and social science is both natural and social— that is, a part of human nature and considerably motivated by a concern for social status (and its maintenance). Whether the pervasive influence of values is inimical to the sciences is a separate question.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
May, Joshuajoshmay@uab.edu
Keywords: values in science; wishful thinking; conflicts of interest; replication crisis; research integrity; motivated reasoning; rationalization
Subjects: General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Dr. Joshua May
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2020 00:17
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2020 00:17
Item ID: 18326
Journal or Publication Title: Synthese
Publisher: Springer (Springer Science+Business Media B.V.)
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-020-02937-0
Subjects: General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 2020
ISSN: 1573-0964
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/18326

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