Value-Free ideal is an epistemic ideal: an objection to the argument from inductive risk


  • Hossein Sheykh Rezaee Iranian Institute of Philosophy (IRIP)
  • Hamed Bikaraan-Behesht National Research Institute for Science Policy (NRISP)



value-free ideal, inductive risk, policy-making, epistemic ideal, scientific objectivity


Arguing from inductive risk, Heather Douglas tried to show that the ideal of value-free science is completely unfounded. The argument has been widely acknowledged to be a strong argument against the ideal. In this paper, beginning with an analysis of the concept of an ideal, we argue that the value-free ideal is an epistemic ideal rather than a practical or ethical ideal. Then, we aim to show that the argument from inductive risk cannot be employed against the value-free ideal as far as it is understood as an epistemic ideal. We try to show that the argument takes practical and ethical limitations of actual scientific enterprise into account to undermine the value-free ideal. But employing non-epistemic considerations makes the argument impotent against an epistemic ideal.


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