In Defence of Science

  • Torbjörn Tännsjö
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 236)


In a talk to this conference2 Lars Bergstrom has put forward the somewhat surprising thesis that, in a conventional sense, the more “useful” a given field of research is considered to be, the more dangerous it is, and the less money should be invested in it. At least this is a reasonable “rule of thumb”, according to Bergstrom. The rationale of this thesis is a thoroughgoing scepticism concerning the (positive) value of science, considered both in terms of its possible intrinsic value (according to Bergstrom, knowledge as such does not have any value) and in terms of instrumental, extrinsic, value (probably, according to Bergstrom who quotes Wittgenstein and Michael Dummett for support, on balance, science does more harm than good). In this paper I want to question the thesis put forward by Bergstrom. However, for the sake of argument, I will accept many of the premisses upon which his argument is based. My disagreement with Bergstrom concerns a difficult problem within ethics. It might be of some interest to learn that, even among people who share a common view of the facts of the matter, rather subtle differences of ethical outlook may engender very different evaluations of a phenomenon such as science.


Seventeenth Century Worth Living Average View Happy People Happy Person 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Torbjörn Tännsjö
    • 1
  1. 1.Stockholm UniversitySweden

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