Foundations of Science

, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp 257–268 | Cite as

Values in pure and applied science

  • Sven Ove Hansson


In pure science, the standard approach to non-epistemic values is to exclude them as far as possible from scientific deliberations. When science is applied to practical decisions, non-epistemic values cannot be excluded. Instead, they have to be combined with (value-deprived) scientific information in a way that leads to practically optimal decisions. A normative model is proposed for the processing of information in both pure and applied science. A general-purpose corpus of scientific knowledge, with high entry requirements, has a central role in this model. Due to its high entry requirements, the information that it contains is sufficiently reliable for the vast majority of practical purposes. However, for some purposes, the corpus needs to be supplemented with additional information, such as scientific indications of danger that do not satisfy the entry requirements for the corpus. The role of non-epistemic values in the evaluation of scientific information should, as far as possible, be limited to determining the level of evidence required for various types of practical decisions.


Corpus Values in science Epistemic values Non-epistemic values Scientific values Applied science Pure science 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Philosophy and the History of TechnologyRoyal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden

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