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Philosopher of science Helen Longino will give two conferences at the IEA in October

by Richard Meckien - published Oct 01, 2015 05:50 PM - - last modified Oct 06, 2015 02:44 PM
Rights: Original version in Portuguese by Mauro Bellesa

Helen Longino
Helen Longino

Helen Longino, Clarence Irving Lewis Professor of philosophy at Stanford University, United States, considered one of the exponents of philosophy of science today, will give two conferences at the IEA on October 22-23, at 9.30 am on both days.

The events are part of the program of the IEA-USP's Philosophy, History, and Sociology of Science and Technology Research Group and will be broadcast live over the Internet.

Science and values

Longino brings a breakthrough in the introduction of feminist contributions to the philosophy of science. Her work has had considerable impact on contemporary thinking on science and values ​​and has influenced the development of the model of interaction between science and values ​​(M-SV) by the IEA-USP's research group.

Even agreeing with the model theory in general terms, Longino's view on the issue has important differences. The conferences will be an opportunity for members of the research group to test their ideas with her.

The theme of the first conference will be Critical constructive empiricism: the social character of knowledge, focusing on the critical discursive aspect of objectivity and its consequences for understanding the role of values in the sciences.

Helen characterizes the approach of the conference as social epistemology to science and explains that this position "arises from the consideration of arguments about the indeterminacy of hypotheses by evidence."

She will develop this argument and propose that the challenges it poses to the claims for objectivity "can only be met if we drive ourselves to the thought of knowledge as a range in a social and interactive context." The philosopher suggests that "the observance of certain standards in and by an inquiring community reduces (but does not eliminate) the role of values ​​in science."

In the second conference, Longino will talk about Values, heuristics, and politics: an exploration of the relation between social and methodological values in science. She argues that the so-called cognitive values ​​or virtues traditionally invoked as truth or objectivity may, in certain contexts of use, be the vehicles to intentionally or unintentionally introduce the social and political values ​​in scientific research.

This argument contrasts two sets of values, according to her: the traditional or orthodox set (simplicity, generality, etc.) and an alternative set (heterogeneity, complexity), drawn from feminist practices and opposition. She shows how each one can be used in support of the hypotheses with very different social implications.

At the conference, Helen will present the proposal that both sets of values are considered as heuristic, but that elements of the sets are not independent indicators of the context of truth or objectivity.

Photo: personal archive of Helen Longino