SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Values in Research: Problems for Philosophy of Science, Moral Philosophy and Policy making
(Affiliated Workshop, English)

The role of values in research and application of research findings is one of the classical topics in general philosophy of science. Irrespective of controversy over the nature and epistemology of values, there is a consensus that certain value judgements foster inadequate representations of reality. In addition to this, the setting of research agendas can be driven by commercial interests of financiers or inexplicit value assumptions of researchers. Also, commercial and moral values play a role in the context of policy development, where openness about value assumptions counts as a prerequisite of a scientifically informed decision process and adequate risk assessment.

Other values, however, play a crucial constitutive role in research: Individual values of researchers are the motivational basis for responsible conduct research, scientific values like empirical adequacy or simplicity might help to bridge the gap between empirical findings and scientific hypotheses -- thereby help to cope with underdetermination of theory by evidence -- and some value assumptions about legitimate risks of error even determine the design of empirical studies and analysis of empirical findings.

The aim of the workshop is to bring together scholars who work in general philosophy of science, moral philosophy as well as policy making to discuss values and value neutrality in the sciences and to address in particular
... the role of values in basic research and applied sciences and potential systematic differences;
... the precise meaning, limits, and criticism of the value neutrality requirement;
... values in scientific terminology;
... scientific, moral, and economic values in science and policy making;
... the social value requirement, i.e. responsibilities of scientists towards society, and responsible conduct of research, i.e. professional responsibilities of scientists in research and publication processes.


09:00--09:10 Introduction
09:10--09:55 Jürgen Landes: The Philosophy of Pharmacology and Evidence for Causal Assessment
Short break
10:05--10:50 Alexander Christian: The Vice of Virtues -- Virtue-Based Research Ethics and the Problem of Moral Luck
Short break
11:00--11:45 Matthis Krischel: The Value(s) of Nazi Medicine

13:00--16:15 Break: Lunch Break, SOPhiA Opening, Plenary Lecture

16:15--17:00 Julia Mirkin & Jan Felix Wieloch: Disease Mongering: An Analysis of its Methods and Mechanisms
Short Break
17:10--17:55 Frauke Albersmeier: Terminology as the Achilles' Heel of Value-Neutral Science


Jürgen Landes (MCMP): The Philosophy of Pharmacology and Evidence for Causal Assessment
One focus of the philosophy of medicine is the epistemological value of evidence, the debate is mainly concerned with the value of evidence provided by Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) versus evidence obtained from other forms of inquiry (observational studies, expert testimony, bench research, etc). A great number of evidence hierarchies have been developed which help determine the weight of the evidence when it comes to assessing the benefits a treatment may have. Typically, RCTs and systematic meta-analyses of RCTs are at the top of hierarchies.
Evidence for assessing potential side effects caused by a drug often emerges in a non-systematic and spontaneous manner. RCTs often fail to pick up signals of potential side effects---due to a number of reasons. Hence, the assessment of the causal claim that a drug causes a side effect requires the assessment of non-systematic, heterogeneous and often contradictory evidence.
In this talk, I hence introduce a Bayesian network model which aims to model a rational assessment of the claim that a drug causes a side effect.

Landes, Jürgen and Osimani, Barbara and Poellinger, Roland. Epistemology of Causal Inference in Pharmacology. European Journal for Philosophy of Science (

Alexander Christian (Düsseldorf): The vice of virtues -- Virtue-based research ethics and the organizational features of scientific institutions
Responsible conduct of research is usually explained in terms of principles which aim at fostering moral integrity and objectivity of research processes. Virtue-based approaches abstain from principles and instead solely focus on behavioral dispositions of scientists (Macfarlane, 2009). On this perspective, scientific virtues instantiated by individual scientists ensure undisturbed research processes. One problem such a program faces is that scientists sometimes need to comply with demanding requirements, like the obligation to report supposed cases of scientific misconduct (Sprague, 2010). Unfortunately even justified reports involve the risk of severe repercussions for whistleblowers and might result in ostracism or psychological pressure (Gunsalus, 1998). Therefore, it seems that virtuous behavior in cases of whistleblowing depends on moral luck (c.f. Williams, 1982), in that it depends on working under favorable institutional conditions.
In my talk I develop a moral luck argument against virtue-based approaches and discuss whether extending the domain of virtues from behavioral dispositions to the organizational features of scientific institutions is a viable solution.

-- Beauchamp, T.L. & Childress, J.F., 2001. Principles of Biomedical Ethics, fifth edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
-- Gunsalus, C.K., 1998. ''How to blow the Whistle and still have a career afterwards,'' in: Science and Engineering Ethics, 4(1), pp.51-64.
-- Macfarlane, B., 2009. Researching with Integrity, New York: Routledge.
-- Sprague, R.L., 2010. ''Whistleblowing: A Very Unpleasant Avocation,'' in: Ethics & Behavior, 3(1), pp.103?133.
-- Williams, B., 1981. Moral Luck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Matthis Krischel: The value(s) of Nazi Medicine
In this presentation I will give a short historical introduction to Nazi medicine and Nazi medical crimes, with a focus on two dimensions of ''values'': First, I will describe the underlying values of Nazi medical ethics, including a biologistic world view and collectivist ethics, focusing on public health over the well-being of individual patients. This approach to medicine made it possible for a majority of physicians in Germany to support discriminatory and eventually murderous health policies and was used to justify medical crimes, including experiments on research subjects without their consent. Second, I will discuss the history of the evaluation of medical experiments performed in Nazi concentration camps, specifically the hypothermia experiments in Dachau concentration camp. While earlier accounts of the 1980s dismissed their scientific validity in part on grounds of their moral deficiencies and sometimes held them to an ahistorical standard of scientific rigor, I want to argue for a more nuanced analysis that takes the scientific rigor and the morality of the experiments into account separately.

Julia Mirkin & Jan Felix Wieloch (Düsseldorf): Disease Mongering: An Analysis of its Methods and Mechanisms
The term Disease Mongering describes a set of several marketing strategies aimed at drawing inadequate attention to certain diseases and other arguably deficient states of the human body or psyche. The agents of DM typically try to influence the public perception of such states in order to expand the amount of potential clients for therapy or to justify receiving research funding.
In our talk we will explicate the phenomenon DM and put it into context of medicalization and pathologization of society, as well as examine the role of scientists in its conduct. Although there are still problems defining DM it is possible to identify certain mechanisms involved in this process. In order to elaborate those mechanisms, we will investigate the public presentation of hypertension. This example reveals some of the potential damages for society and individuals resulting from DM. It also shows why identifying instances of DM is problematic due to vague terms in recent definitions of the phenomenon.

Payer, Lynn (1992): Disease Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Frauke Albersmeier (Düsseldorf): Terminology as the Achilles' heel of value-neutral science
Max Weber's influential plea for a value-free science includes both, the demand for scientists to refrain from uttering value-judgments, and a call for transparency and balance whenever they nevertheless ''enunciate their evaluations on ultimate questions 'in the name of science' in governmentally privileged lecture halls'' (Weber 1949, 4). It was particularly in the context of teaching that Weber demanded scholars to unmistakably highlight where they turn from empirical statements to ''practical evaluations''---a clarification so important, that Weber thought ''nothing is too ''pedantic''' to achieve it (20). In this talk, I will point out one kind of practical limit to such pedantry. On the level of word choice, evaluations tend to play a critical, but nontransparent role. Their impact is not only relevant with regard to thick concepts, which have both descriptive and evaluative content (such as 'rape', cf. Dupre 2007, 32-5). The choice of purely descriptive content that will be covered by an expression is based on an evaluation (of relevance), too. Although Weber himself seems to be concerned primarily with explicitly advanced evaluations, evaluative judgments underlying the choice of a descriptive framework are equally in conflict with the spirit of the value-neutrality requirement. Looking at the case of nonhuman animals used in biomedical research and their representation as 'animal models', I will show how terminology eludes value-neutrality and indicate the potential damage of this lack of transparency.

-- Duprè, John (2007) ''Fact and Value'', in: Kincaid, Harold, Dupré, John & Wylie, Alison (eds.) Value-Free Science? Ideals and Illusions. Oxford/ New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 27-41.
-- Weber, Max (1949) The Methodology of the Social Sciences. Glencoe: The Free Press.

Organisation: Frauke Albersmeier & Alexander Christian (HHU Düsseldorf).

Chair: Frauke Albersmeier & Alexander Christian
Time: 09:00-13:00, 13 September 2017 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.003

Frauke Albersmeier 
(HHU Düsseldorf, Germany)

Frauke Albersmeier is a research fellow at Heinrich Heine University, Duesseldorf, working in project A05: "Presuppositions of frame theory in the history of philosophy" of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre 991: "The Structure of Representations in Language, Cognition, and Science". Her research focus is on philosophical methodology as well as animal ethics. She is currently writing her dissertation on ''The Concept of Moral Progress''.

Alexander Christian 
(HHU Düsseldorf, Germany)

Alexander Christian is the assistant director of the Düsseldorf Center for Logic and Philosophy of Science and a research fellow at the Chair of theoretical Philosophy at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf, Germany. He is working in general philosophy of science and research ethics, with a particular focus on scientific misconduct, questionable research practices, and bias in medical research. Alexander published about the suppression of medical evidence, the demarcation problem, and values in science.

Matthis Krischel 
(HHU Düsseldorf, Germany)

Jürgen Landes 
(MCMP, Germany)

Jürgen Landes takes interests in a number of areas, some inside philosophy some outside philosophy: Philosophy of medicine, formal epistemology, inductive logic, reasoning, maximum entropy methods decision making, multi-agent systems. He has authored and co-authored papers in a number of journals and conference proceedings reflecting his research interests: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Synthese, Studia Logica, Annals of Pure and Applied Logic, Thought, International Journal of Approximate Reasoning, Entropy, Lecture Notes in Computer Science. His current research interests also include uncertainty and evidence in pharmacology and medicine. He holds a PhD in mathematical logic granted by the University of Manchester (2009). He has since held research positions at the LBE in Narbonne (France), at the FOM in Munich (Germany), at the University of Kent in Canterbury (UK) and is currently based at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy in Munich (Germany) working on the philosophy of pharmacology.

Julia Mirkin 
(HHU Düsseldorf, Germany)

Julia Mirkin is a student at the Heinrich Heine University of Düsseldorf. She also works as a student assistant at the theoretical department of philosophy. She is currently writing her bachelor thesis on ''Value Neutrality, Social Responsibility and the Production of Disease''.

Jan Felix Wieloch 
(HHU Düsseldorf, Germany)

Jan Felix Wieloch is a student of Philosophy at the Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf. Subject of Bachelor Thesis: Disease Mongering as a Problem for Research Ethics.

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