, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 69–73 | Cite as

Appropriate roles for ethical and social values in scientific activity

Kevin C. Elliott: A tapestry of values: An introduction to values in science. New York: Oxford University Press, 2017, xiv+208pp, $99 HB
  • Hugh Lacey
Book Review

A Tapestry of Values aims to establish that values “are not completely absent from any area of science” (11) and should not “be excluded from central aspects of scientific reasoning, such as decisions about what methodologies or standards of evidence to employ” (7).1 It also aims to identify how appropriate and inappropriate roles of values may be distinguished in scientific activity. To pursue these aims, Kevin Elliott critically examines a variety of appropriate and inappropriate roles played by values in connection with five aspects of scientific activity: (1) choice of research topics and areas of research to prioritize; (2) methods utilized for research in areas such as agriculture and medicine, and their background assumptions; (3) aims of particular scientific investigations; (4) responses to uncertainty; and (5) language used for describing and communicating scientific results.

Instead of discussing the specific arguments offered in connection with each of (1)–(5), I will make...


  1. Lacey, H. 1999. Is science value free? Values and scientific understanding. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  2. Lacey, H. 2017. Distinguishing between cognitive and social values. In Current controversies of values in science, ed. Kevin Elliott, and Daniel Steel, 15–30. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Swarthmore CollegeSwarthmoreUSA
  2. 2.University of São PauloSão PauloBrazil

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