Value-free Science? by Robert Proctor
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Value-free Science?
By Robert Proctor

Value-free Science?

Purity and Power in Modern Knowledge

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Format: Hardback

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Value-free Science? by Robert Proctor

Book Description

Why have scientists shied away from politics, or defended their work as value free? How has the ideal of neutrality come to dominate the world of science? These are some of the questions that Robert Proctor addresses in his study of the politics of modern science. "Value-free Science?" emphasizes the importance of understanding the political origins and impact of scientific ideas. Proctor demonstrates how value-neutrality is a reaction to larger political developments, including the use of science by government and industry, the specialization of professional disciplines, and efforts to stifle intellectual freedoms or to politicize the world of the academy. The first part of the book traces the origins of value-neutrality prior to the 18th century. Plato and Aristotle saw contemplative though as superior to practical action, and this separation theory and practice is still invoked in defense of "neutral science". In the 17th century the Baconian search for useful knowledge allowed a new and closer tie between theory and practice, but it also isolated moral knowledge from natural philosophy. Another version of neutrality was introduced by the mechanical conception of the universe, in which the idea of a benevolent, human-ventered cosmos was replaced by a "devalorized" view f nature. The central part of the book explores the exclusion of politics and morals with the emergence of the social sciences. Proctor highlights the case of Germany, where the ideal of value-neutrality was first articulate in modern form by social scientists seeking to attack or defend Marxism, feminism, and other social movements. He traces the rise and fall of positivist ethical and economic theory, showing that arguments for value-free science often mask concrete political manoeuvers. Finally, he reviews critiques of science that have been voiced in debates over crucial issues in agricultural science, military research, health and medicine and biological determinism. This book should be of interest to anyone seeking ways to reconcile the ideals of scientific freedom and social responsibility.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780674931701
ISBN-10: 067493170X
Format: Hardback
(235mm x 155mm x 24mm)
Pages: 344
Imprint: Harvard University Press
Publisher: Harvard University Press
Publish Date: 4-Nov-1991
Country of Publication: United States

Books By Author Robert Proctor

Neuroergonomics by Robert Proctor Neuroergonomics, Hardback (February 2013)

This book covers the foundations and successes of Neuroergonomics, combining neuroscience and ergonomics to enhance efficiency and safety. An overview of the essential areas within the field is given including chapters on brain networks, perception, attention, and performance.

Golden Holocaust by Robert Proctor Golden Holocaust, Hardback (February 2012)

The cigarette is the deadliest artifact in the history of human civilization. It is also one of the most beguiling, thanks to more than a century of manipulation at the hands of tobacco industry chemists. This title explores how the cigarette came to be the most widely-used drug on the planet, with six trillion sticks sold per year.

Flower and the Green Leaf by Robert Proctor Flower and the Green Leaf, Hardback (November 2010)

The book is concerned with the first generation of students at the Mackintosh Building. Full of interest for those with a passion for arts and architecture, the book also gives information about Glasgow, culturally and socially, at the beginning of the 20th century.

Agnotology by Robert Proctor Agnotology, Paperback (May 2008)

Agnotology-the study of how ignorance is produced and maintained-introduces a new and much-needed perspective for scholars across all fields of research, including the humanities and social sciences, business organization, and environmental policy and the law.

» View all books by Robert Proctor

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Author Biography - Robert Proctor

Robert N. Proctor, author of Racial Hygiene: Medicine under the Nazis, is Professor of History of Science at Stanford University.

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