Projeto (Resumo em inglês)

por Marilda Gifalli - publicado 02/08/2013 10:16 - última modificação 02/08/2019 15:36

On the co-unfolding of scientific knowledge and viable values

My main project viable values proposed book are well expressed in the summary of my invited lecture, with the same title, to Section B2: Ethical Issues in the Philosophy of Science, 14th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science (Nancy, France, 19–26 July, 2011):

Ethical/social values have proper roles to play at several moments of scientific research, including (1) when items are chosen for investigation and (2) when the risks of technoscientific innovations are appraised. Concerning (1), since values of technological and economic progress are currently highly salient, priority tends to be given to research that may lead to technoscientific innovations that will contribute to economic growth and competitiveness. Concerning (2), values influence what is considered a potential harm; and empirically grounded risk analysis often leads to endorsing hypotheses that risks are insignificant, i.e., to making the judgment – after considering the is to write a book to be entitled: On the co-unfolding of scientific knowledge and, which I expect to publish in both English and Portuguese. The aims and scope of the consequences of acting informed by such a hypothesis should it be false, and their ethical salience – that the evidence supporting it is sufficiently strong (despite remaining uncertainties) to legitimateacting in ways informed by it.

Common views about the dichotomy of fact (scientific knowledge) and value usually overshadow deliberations on these matters. But they ignore that holding values has presuppositions that are open to empirical investigation. Holding the values that currently tend to shape research priorities, e.g., presupposes claims such as: ‘technoscientific innovation provides benefits that contribute towards the well being of human beings generally’, ‘there are technoscientific solutions to most human problems, including those occasioned by technoscientific innovations themselves’ and ‘there are no serious alternative proposals available today to the pursuit of economic growth based on technoscientific innovation’. Such presuppositions also underlie the value judgment that undermining alternative practices, which are not based on technoscience, is not a potential harm that needs to be investigated; and they inform the presumption of legitimacy usually accorded to implementing noveltechnoscientific innovations.

Presuppositions like these are widely endorsed, usually without their evidential support being carefully appraised. They may be investigated empirically, however, but only if a range of methodologies is deployed that is more comprehensive than those used in research that leads to technoscientific innovations and in the standard risk analyses that accompany them –methodologies that are able to take into account the social/economic/ecological/historical context of innovations (and of the problems they may be intended to resolve). The outcomes of such investigation may put the presuppositions into question and thus the value judgments that they underlie. Not only do values have impact at certain moments of research, but also scientific research can have impact on what are viablevalues.

If the appropriate range of methodologies is not deployed, however, and scientific research is limited to methodologies of the kind that are involved in the research that generates efficacious innovations, the values in play at (1) and (2) will not be subjected to the critique that can come from scientific investigation; and they will play their role without being opened to reasoned (and democratic) deliberation, and perhaps go unnoticed. The co-unfolding of scientific knowledge and viable values depends on recognizing the essential role of methodological pluralism. (It also depends on upholding that the criteria for the appraisal of scientific knowledge claims do not depend upon holding any particular ethical/social values.) It points to dialectical (not reductionist) relations between scientific knowledge and reasonably held values that perhaps can cut through some of the impasses confronted in controversies about technoscientific innovations. I will use the example of transgenic crops (that I have developed in detail in many writings) to illustrate this claim.

The Congress, mentioned above, states its aim as to ‘help deepen our understanding of the most promising orientations in science and even help promote future advances in human civilization’.

The proposed book – which will draw upon and elaborate my recent published articles, conference presentations and seminars at USP – will contain a sustained argument that this cannot happen without clear recognition of the the co-unfolding of scientific knowledge and viable values, and taking steps to ensure that it is not undermined.

• Collaboration with Professor Jorge Gibert, in Chile, in preparing a Spanish translation of a selection of articles from Valores e Atividade Científica 1 e 2, to be published by Ediciones Escaparate.

• Contributing an invited article (on transgenic crops) to a volume, Biographies of technoscientific objects, that is being prepared (for publication in 2013) by the organizers of the German/French GOTO (Genesis and ontology of technoscientific objects) project.

• Preparing for publication in English language journals several articles that I published in Portuguese (mainly in Scientiae Studia) during the past three years.

• Preparing an article (in English) on the Precautionary Principle and the responsibility of scientists today, in which I will defend a new, elaborated version of the Precautionary Principle. (This will also be presented at the civil society meetings of Rio + 20 in 2012.)

• Beginning preparation of an introductory book presenting the current version of the model of the interaction of science and values that I (and my USP colleagues) have been developing for some years. It will be strucured by a document, ‘20 theses on the interaction between science and values’ that I developed during the XXII Seminário Internacional de Filosofia e História da Ciência, given at USP, March 3 – June 30, 2011.