The argument from inductive risk is considered to be one of the strongest challenges for value-free science. A great part of its appeal lies in the idea that even an ideal epistemic agent—the “perfect scientist” or “scientist qua scientist”—cannot escape inductive risk. In this paper, I scrutinize this ambition by stipulating an idealized Bayesian decision setting. I argue that inductive risk does not show that the “perfect scientist” must, descriptively speaking, make non-epistemic value-judgements, at least not in a way that undermines the value-free ideal. However, the argument is more successful in showing that there are cases where the “perfect scientist” should, normatively speaking, use non-epistemic values. I also show that this is possible without creating problems of illegitimate prescription and wishful thinking. Thus, while inductive risk does not refute value-freedom completely, it still represents a powerful critique of value-free science.
How to Cite
Inductive risk, value-free ideal, wishful thinking, prescription, scientist qua scientist, Bayesianism
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons License.