In his “A New Program for Philosophy of Science?”, Ronald Giere expresses qualmsregarding the critical and political projects I advocate for philosophy of science—thatthe critical project assumes an underdetermination absent from actual science, and thepolitical project takes us outside the professional pursuit of philosophy of science. Inreply I contend that the underdetermination the critical project assumes does occur inactual science, and I provide a variety of examples to support this. And I contend thatthe political project requires no more than what other academic fields even in sciencestudies are already providing.
In “A New Program for Philosophy of Science?” Ronald Giere sheds
much light on the intended message of my “A Philosophy of Science forthe Twenty-First Century.” But he also indicates where shadows needattending to. Allow me to oblige.
First, regarding the program for philosophy of science I am advocating,
Giere notes that it includes both a naturalistic project and a critical project,but is unsure whether it also includes a political project. It does. If it does,he continues, then I am “envisioning a professional philosophy of scienceso different from that currently practiced that professional criticism seemspointless.” Perhaps so, but the different sort of philosophy of science I amenvisioning is not so very different from other currently existing academicfields. Think of economics and political science, for example, whose mem-bers often play at least advisory roles in governments here and abroad, inorganizations like Amnesty International, in labor unions, and in variouscivil rights organizations. The different sort of philosophy of science I amenvisioning is not even so very different from other currently existing ac-ademic fields in science studies. Consider the history of science, for ex-ample. Beginning in the 1950s historians of science have testified beforecongressional committees on the desirability of creating a Department of
*Received June 2002; revised August 2002.
† To contact the author, please write to Janet Kourany, Department of Philosophy,100 Malloy Hall, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana 46556; e-mail:[email protected]
Philosophy of Science, 70 (January 2003) pp. 22–26. 0031-8248/2003/6904-0003$10.00Copyright 2003 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.
Science (A. Hunter Dupree), on the tension between democratic and elitescience (Daniel Kevles), on ethics in science (June Goodfield and DorothyNelkin), on the general value of outside experts trained in the social sci-ences in the formulation of science policy (Alex Roland), and on manyother issues related to federal science policy, and they have also providedinformation and policy advice to the National Aeronautics and SpaceAdministration and the National Science Foundation as well as privatecorporations. Reflecting on these activities and on current and future pol-icy needs, historian of science John Heilbron has called for research andmodes of disseminating the results of that research—from philosophersand sociologists of science as well as historians—that “contribute to theformation of a balanced and humane national science policy” (Heilbron1987, 563). What I am proposing for philosophy of science fits right inwith this goal.
Giere focuses most of his attention, however, not on this political pro-
ject, but on the critical project I advocate for philosophy of science—thatof appraising science in terms of an egalitarian ideal of human flourishing.
Giere voices no complaint regarding parts of this project—for example,appraising research topics in terms of such an ideal, and funding themaccordingly, or research assumptions, or methods of data collection, orepistemic values. He even observes that, with regard to the appraisal ofresearch topics, I join “many others”—though presumably not manyothers in philosophy of science, the point I was pressing—in calling forsuch appraisal, and he also observes that we have strong reasons on ourside. But Giere does complain about the appraisal of research results interms of an egalitarian ideal—more specifically, the favoring of hypoth-eses that support egalitarian goals over those that do not in cases ofunderdetermination. To this point he notes that “there are many argu-ments that the extent of such underdetermination is not nearly so greatas Kourany’s project assumes (see, e.g., Laudan and Leplin 1991).” Butof course, there are also many arguments that challenge those arguments(see, e.g., Kukla 1998, in which Kukla spends much time systematicallycritiquing Laudan and Leplin 1991). Abstract arguments aside, the sci-entific and philosophical literatures contain many examples of under-determination in “real scientific practice,” Giere’s ultimate concern. Andthough some of these examples are drawn from physics—for instance,Cushing (1994) on Quantum Mechanics—many are drawn from the so-cial sciences and biology, the fields of interest to us at present. To citesome of the “many examples that could be used to demonstrate the Du-hem-Quine problem at work in economics,” Cross (1982) has applied theDuhem/Quine thesis to macroeconomics, Smith (1989) to experimentaleconomics, and Hands to demand theory (Hands 2001, 98). Glymour(1997, 1998) lays bare the Duhem/Quine problem in social scientific re-
search in general, and Herrnstein and Murray’s The Bell Curve
(1994) andIQ research in particular, and Wylie (1985, 1988) does the same for ar-chaeology, though Glymour’s and Wylie’s immediate aims in these workslie elsewhere. And Giere himself in his response has pointed to one of theapplications in biology—Longino’s critique of the linear-hormonal re-search program and its comparison with the selectionist research programin her Science as Social Knowledge
(1990). In this last case, in addition,Longino illustrates the kind of choice to which feminist principles lead.
But even if scientific decision making is
sometimes genuinely under-
determined by the available data in real scientific practice, Giere is stillloath to encourage scientists to favor those hypotheses that support egal-itarian goals over those that do not. His reason is that hypothesis selectionis “supposed” to be “strongly based” on empirical data—scientists are“supposed” in these cases simply to withhold judgment. But this is tooquick. Never mind that a choice favoring the more egalitarian option willbe
a choice “strongly based” on empirical data, since all available datawill have been taken into account, withholding judgment is frequently notfeasible in real scientific practice, at least the real scientific practice thatconcerns us here, the scientific practice that bears on egalitarian goals.
Take an example currently in the news—hormone replacement therapy(see, e.g., Kolata and Petersen 2002, and Dranginis 2002). Since the 1960sestrogen, or a combination of estrogen and progestin, has been touted asan effective preventive not only for menopausal discomforts such as hotflashes and night sweats but also for such diseases of postmenopausalwomen as osteoporosis and heart disease. However, for nearly fortyyears—up until a few weeks ago, in fact—the evidence for the latter (dis-ease prevention) claim was equivocal: while there were dozens of studiesof postmenopausal women, as well as dozens more of animals and cells,that appeared to support the claim, there were also problems with thosestudies (they were only observational, they furnished only indirect sup-port, etc.), some study results were negative, and some studies suggestedthat hormone replacement therapy had unacceptable side effects (e.g., sig-nificantly raised the risk of other diseases such as breast cancer). Never-theless, there was no possibility of “withholding judgment” here. For onething, only with Bernadine Healy, the first woman head of the NationalInstitutes of Health, and the huge, expensive Women’s Health Initiativeshe fought to set in motion in 1993, was there the possibility of gettingany more definitive kind of evidence. And in the meantime there was theneed to act, to either prescribe hormones or not prescribe hormones, toeither try medically to protect postmenopausal women from heart disease,osteoporosis, and other ills (colon cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.) or notto try. (Significantly, the principal investigator of the long-term, random-ized, controlled study that Healy made possible, the study that was not to
yield results until at least 2004 but was stopped early only a few weeksago, reported to The New York Times
that when the study was beingplanned doctors and researchers criticized it as unethical because it wouldinclude a control group of women taking placebos who would thus bedenied the benefits of hormone replacement therapy.) The upshot was thatmedical authorities embraced hormone replacement therapy as an effec-tive disease preventive and recommended it at menopause for nearly allwomen, with the result that millions of healthy women were medicatedfor years, sometimes for life. At the same time feminist organizations suchas the National Women’s Health Network—a network of 300 organiza-tions plus more than 8000 individual members—rejected hormone replace-ment therapy as an effective disease preventive for nearly all women.
Values were involved in both stands. Were these values, however, sim-
ply “ideological bias,” as Giere suggests (“In the end, it is the explicit
appeal to ideology in the evaluation of hypotheses that makes this aspectof Kourany’s critical project unacceptable . . . ”)? While it is hazardousto speculate regarding the values that influenced the medical establishment(though there is reason to believe that the pharmaceutical industry and itsvalues played a significant role here), no speculation is needed regardingthe values that influenced the feminists. Their values are clear enough invarious publications (see, e.g., the National Women’s Health Network2000 and 2002 and their many prior publications, and Love and Lindsey1998 and their publications before and after), and these values includeditems such as: menopause should be thought of, not as the onset of adeficiency disease requiring therapy, but as simply a normal transition toa new stage of life (notice that few have suggested that men,
who alsodecrease their hormone production as they age, should be similarlythought of as diseased and hence in need of prolonged, possibly even life-long, hormone replacement therapy); and women should take charge oftheir own health and make life-style changes (exercise, diet, etc.) and seekout safe alternatives (e.g., plant estrogens from such foods as whole grainsand beans) to drugs that have well-documented risks in order to protectthemselves from heart disease, osteoporosis, and other diseases of old age.
Since these values were fully justified in the works cited, they did notfunction as “ideology”—if by “ideology” Giere means (as he seems tomean) some kind of unjustified system of values.
But even if egalitarian values like the ones given above were
tified, Giere is still
reluctant to allow them to intervene in cases of under-determination. The reason is that such intervention poses a “danger”: “Ina democratic society, those duly elected or appointed to make the relevantdecisions may not share [these] values. So decisions may well be made inconformity to [opposing values].” In short, if unjustified values can inter-vene in hypothesis selection, it is better—safer—not to have any values
intervene at all. But unjustified values can intervene as well in researchtopic appraisal and funding. Shall we then take the “safer course” andhave no values intervene there either? Giere has found such an idea un-acceptable. Then why not simply rule out the intervention of unjustifiedvalues
—in both hypothesis selection and research topic appraisal andfunding—not the intervention of values themselves? Actually we have nochoice. Since values do
intervene in science—in hypothesis selection andresearch topic choice as well as in assumptions and concepts and methodsof data collection and in many other ways as well—and since no one hasyet provided a workable strategy to screen these values out, we had betterdo all we can to make these values as justified as any other aspect of ourscientific enterprise.
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Cushing, James T. (1994), Quantum Mechanics: Historical Contingency and the Copenhagen
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Dranginis, Anne M. (2002), “Why the Hormone Study Finally Happened”, The New York
Glymour, Clark (1997), “Social Statistics and Genuine Inquiry: Reflections on The Bell
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New York:Springer-Verlag, 257–280.
——— (1998), “What Went Wrong? Reflections on Science by Observation and The Bell
”, Philosophy of Science
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Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Kolata, Gina, and Melody Petersen (2002), “Hormone Replacement Study: A Shock to the
Medical System”, The New York Times
151: A1, A16 [July 10].
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tion”, The Journal of Philosophy
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Princeton, NJ: Princeton University
Love, Susan M., and Karen Lindsey (1998), Dr. Susan Love’s Hormone Book.
National Women’s Health Network (2000), Taking Hormones and Women’s Health: Choices,
Risks and Benefits,
5th ed. Washington, DC: National Women’s Health Network.
——— (2002), The Truth about Hormone Replacement Therapy: How to Break Free from the
Medical Myths of Menopause.
Westminster, MD: Prima Publishing.
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——— (1988), “ ‘Simple’ Analogy and the Role of Relevance Assumptions: Implications of
Archaeological Practice”, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science
I decided it might be a good time to review some of the research on powderymildew. We spent a lot of time last year fighting with the disease on various crops. First,we could not make it happen no matter what we tried, even on Gerber daisy. Then whenwe did have the right weather, we could not seem to get any control even with the bestproducts. Some of our most recent trials were on roses and they
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