Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

Breadcrumb Navigation


Zoom Talk: Alice Murphy und Alexander Reutlinger (MCMP)

Meeting-ID: 9443 3194 088

02.12.2020 16:00  – 18:00 

Please contact for the password.

Elegance and Profit. On the Proper Role of Non-Epistemic Values in Science

Alice Murphy (MCMP), Form and Content: A Defense of Aesthetic Value in Science

Scientists and mathematicians frequently employ aesthetic language, such as “elegance” and “beauty”, when evaluating theories, experiments and mathematical proofs. There is growing interest in these evaluations in philosophy of science, but current accounts face a dilemma: Either the aesthetic language is used as a proxy for epistemic features, or the aesthetic language is literal, but has no value in science. In this talk, I set out a way to solve this dilemma. I turn to accounts in aesthetics that argue that aesthetic pleasure of artworks is rooted in an appreciation of the relation between a work’s form and its overarching content (i.e. its point or purpose). Through focusing on thought experiments (and by extension, models), I demonstrate how an appropriate fit between form and content is an aesthetic value in science that is epistemically legitimate. I defend this by showing how well-formulated thought experiments and models can contribute to scientific understanding.

Alexander Reutlinger (MCMP), When Do Non-Epistemic Values Play an Epistemically Illegitimate Role in Science?

In current philosophy of science, the value-free ideal has been rejected, i.e. the view that scientific knowledge should avoid appeal to non-epistemic (e.g. political, moral, and economic) values and interests. This ideal has been replaced by a new received view: non-epistemic values may play a legitimate role in science. However, even if there is a legitimate role for values (as the proponents of the new received view hold), there also seem to be cases in which values clearly play an epistemically illegitimate role. Hence, the Gretchenfrage of the current science and values debate, and my main question, is this: What makes the role of a non-epistemic value in science epistemically illegitimate? I will argue for an account according to which the role of a value is epistemically illegitimate if being motivated by this value explains certain epistemic errors. I will use examples of strategic science skepticism to illustrate and support my approach.