PSA 1972 pp 219-247 | Cite as

The Exact Role of Value Judgments in Science

  • Michael Scriven
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 20)


If there is one set of arguments worse than those put forward for ‘value-free science’, it is those put forward against it. Both sets have one common characteristic, besides a high frequency of invalidity, and that is the failure to make any serious effort at a plausible analysis of the concept of ‘value judgment’, one that will apply to some of the difficult cases, and not just to one paradigm. Although the problem of definition is in this case extremely difficult, one can attain quite useful results even from a first step. The analysis proposed here, which goes somewhat beyond that first step, is still some distance from being satisfactory. Nevertheless, we must begin with such an attempt since any other way to start would be laying foundations on sand. And we’ll use plenty of prescientific examples, too, to avoid any difficulties with irrelevant technicalities. As we develop the definitions and distinctions, we’ll begin putting them to work, so that we will almost complete the argument while seeming to be just straightening out the concepts. For this is really an area where the problem is a conceptual one, rather than an empirical or inferential one.


Exact Role Prima Facie Case Applied Scientist External Referent Internal Referent 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht-Holland 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Scriven
    • 1
  1. 1.BerkeleyUSA

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