Are interpretations of other people’s arguments value-impregnated? A pilot study among medical students
Analogously to Kuhn’s and Hanson’s understanding of observation as theory-impregnated, we try to test the hypothesis that observation and interpretation might also be value-impregnated. We use a written examination task for medical students who were asked to read and interpret a text where the authors provide arguments pro et contra euthanasia. Afterwards the students were asked to provide their own reflected opinion on the issue. We found that medical students who were against and indecisive provided interpretations of the text which accorded with their own reflected opinions (P = 0.02), indicating that their interpretations were influenced by their own values. When including those who were pro euthanasia, the association was no longer significant. Although the present investigation was a small pilot-study, we obtained partial support for our hypothesis and have adjusted it to read as follows: observations and interpretations might be value-impregnated for respondents who have rather strong value-based attitudes. We think the adjusted hypothesis deserves to be further examined.
KeywordsArgument Education Euthanasia Interpretation Value-impregnation
We would like to thank two anonymous reviewers from Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy for their very helpful comments.