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When Virtues are Vices: 'Anti-Science' Epistemic Values in Environmental Politics

Hicks, Daniel J. (2021) When Virtues are Vices: 'Anti-Science' Epistemic Values in Environmental Politics. Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology, 14. ISSN 2475-3025

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Abstract

Since at least the mid-2000s, political commentators, environmental advocates, and scientists have raised concerns about an “anti-science” approach to environmental policymaking in conservative governments in the US and Canada. This paper explores and resolves a paradox surrounding at least some uses of the “anti-science” epithet. I examine two cases of such “anti-science” environmental policy, both of which involve appeals to epistemic values that are widely endorsed by both scientists and philosophers of science. It seems paradoxical to call an appeal to epistemic values “anti-science.” I develop an analysis that, I argue, can resolve this paradox. This analysis is a version of the “aims approach” to science and values, drawing on ideas from axiology and virtue ethics. I characterize the paradox in terms of conflicts or tensions between epistemic and pragmatic aims, and argue that there is a key asymmetry between them: epistemic aims are valuable, in part, because they are useful for pursuing pragmatic aims. Thus, when epistemic and pragmatic aims conflict, epistemic aims need to be reconceptualized in order to reconcile them to pragmatic aims. When this is done, in the “anti-science” cases, the epistemic values are scientific vices rather than virtues. Thus the “anti-science” epithet is apt.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Hicks, Daniel J.
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine > Epidemiology
General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Dan Hicks
Date Deposited: 19 Sep 2022 17:57
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2022 17:57
Item ID: 21182
Journal or Publication Title: Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology
Official URL: http://doi.org/10.3998/.2629
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.3998/.2629
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine > Epidemiology
General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 2021
Volume: 14
Number: 0
ISSN: 2475-3025
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21182

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