Are Values in Science Like a Tapestry or a Patchwork Quilt?

Kevin C. Elliott (2017) A Tapestry of Values: An Introduction to Values in Science. Oxford University Press. ISBN: 9780190260835, 320 pages. Price: $32.97 (paperback)

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    Note that Elliott addresses similar objections on p. 172 and p. 174. Whilst he admits that there is a “kernel of truth” in the traditional notion that science should be value-free, and agrees that it is “probably true” that values are less likely to play a significant role in some parts of science, he stops short of weighing in on whether or not there are some activities scientists do where value judgments are not necessary. But his advice here—that it is probably better for scientists to assume values could be relevant to their work than assume they do not—seems like good advice.

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    Elliott has explained that he purposely tried not to say that his criteria were either necessary or sufficient because he also conceives of them more as rules of thumb. He is open to the idea that there may be cases where they do not apply or where they are not adequate (pers. comm., 1 July 2017).

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    E.g. see question six in the list of discussion questions for chapter one, p. 179.

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    Note that on p. 171, Elliott acknowledges that “…it can be difficult to weigh the differing values in society and decide what mixture of values is truly representative.”

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Correspondence to Erin J. Nash.

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Nash, E.J. Are Values in Science Like a Tapestry or a Patchwork Quilt?. Sci & Educ 26, 1063–1069 (2017).

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