, Volume 192, Issue 1, pp 79–96 | Cite as

Inductive risk and the contexts of communication

  • Stephen JohnEmail author


In recent years, the argument from inductive risk against value free science has enjoyed a revival. This paper investigates and clarifies this argument through means of a case-study: neonicitinoid research. Sect. 1 argues that the argument from inductive risk is best conceptualised as a claim about scientists’ communicative obligations. Sect. 2 then shows why this argument is inapplicable to “public communication”. Sect. 3 outlines non-epistemic reasons why non-epistemic values should not play a role in public communicative contexts. Sect. 4 analyses the implications of these arguments both for the specific case of neonicitinoid research and for understanding the limits of the argument from inductive risk. Sect. 5 sketches the broader implications of my claims for understanding the “Value Free Ideal” for science.


Inductive risk Values in science Social epistemology Neonicitinoid research Public/private distinction Communicative obligations 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK

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