Axe 2, Values and aims of science

Value, role and aims of science.

The objective of this second task is twofold. First, the purpose is, in a historical perspective, to trace the evolution of the different virtues attributed to science (be they epistemic, practical, social or even moral) and to identify the epistemological views that underlie the attribution of these virtues. Second, in light of the multiple contemporary interrogations and debates on these virtues and on what is expected from science, the purpose is to elaborate a contextualized view of the value and aims of science, which takes into account its current interactions with various components of the society.

The methodology is the following: the project first focuses on exemplary illustrations of this thematization such as Comte’s positivism, Dewey’s pragmatism, the neo-positivism of the Vienna Circle (in particular Otto Neurath’s views), the liberal piecemeal social engineering (Popper or Hayek), the Habermasian version of the critical theory developed in Technik Und Wissenschaft Als Ideologie and, more recently, the growing field of study of evidence-based policy (Cartwright).

Then, to fulfill the second objective of this Task 2, the project addresses the following issues:

  • Is the neutrality of science a necessary condition for its success and epistemic authority?
  • More precisely, in what sense exactly science should be neutral to provide legitimate expertise?
  • How to articulate purely epistemic aims of science (science is about finding out more about the structure of the world) and practical aims (science should respond to the various needs of the society) – is this distinction still cogent today?
  • How should translate the notion of « socially responsible » science in terms of scientific aims, research practices and organization of scientific communities?

The results of this Task 2, combined with the results of the Task 1, will allow making a case for the democratization of the governance of science.