SOPhiA 2017

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

The Alleged Distinction between Cognitive and Epistemic Values: The Case of Simplicity
(Philosophy of Science, English)

Recently, a number of arguments have been developed to give a new interpretation of the concept of epistemic value and distinguish particular values such as simplicity or scope from epistemic values such as internal consistency and empirical adequacy (Laudan 2004; Douglas 2009, 2013). This paper will examine the question whether simplicity as a cognitive value should be distinguished from epistemic values and argues that simplicity is an epistemic value yet. We will argue against Douglas's (2013) recent account of cognitive values because this account is the most sophisticated approach towards the differentiation of epistemic and cognitive values. By this we also aim to deliver arguments against Laudan (2004) and Douglas (2009), at least implicitly. Finally we will propose an alternative understanding of cognitive values that does not distinguish them from epistemic values.

Douglas (2013) gives a detailed account of cognitive values. Inter alia, she divides the general category of cognitive values into values that are applied to theory per se and values that are applied to theory in relation to evidence. On Douglas's formulation, simplicity is an example that can fall into both groups of cognitive values. When simplicity applies to theory per se, it is not an epistemic value. Yet, if simplicity applies to theory in relation to evidence, it is regarded as an epistemic value (cf. Douglas 2013).

The question of this paper is whether the distinction between the two senses of simplicity, namely simplicity as a non-epistemic value applied to theory per se and simplicity as an epistemic value applied to theory in relation to evidence, can be upheld. We will pose a challenge against the distinction between theory per se and theory in relation to evidence with three criticisms. These objections seem to show that how Douglas argues for the differences between cognitive values does not lead to the conclusion that simplicity, as a pragmatic value, is a non-epistemic value. Because the distinction between the two senses of simplicity cannot be upheld, we argue that simplicity in both senses is better seen as an epistemic value, still. In accord with this result we will propose an understanding of cognitive values that does not distinguish them from epistemic values.

-- Douglas, Heather E. (2009). Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal, Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

-- Douglas, Heather E. (2013). ''The Value of Cognitive Values,'' Philosophy of Science 80: 796-806

-- Laudan, Larry. (2004). ''The Epistemic, the Cognitive, and the Social,'' in Science, Values, and Objectivity. Ed. Peter Machamer and Gereon Wolters, 14-23. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Chair: Laurenz Hudetz
Time: 15:45-16:15, 15 September 2017 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.006

Eser Bakdur 
(Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany)

Eser Bakdur studied Philosophy (major) at Bilkent University. She received her M.A. in Philosophy from Bogazici University. Her M.A. thesis was about the problem of induction and the recent metaphysical approaches to it. She is now a PhD candidate at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology. Her PhD dissertation is on the proper roles of values and objectivity in science. Also, currently she is the spokeswoman of the doctoral students at the Institute of Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis, and one of the researchers in the research group WTP: Philosophy of Science, Engineering and Technology in Karlsruhe Institute of Technology.

Michael Poznic 
(Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany)

Michael Poznic studied Philosophy (major) and Sociology, Psychology (minors) at RWTH Aachen University. He received his M.A. with a thesis on semantics and ontology of fiction. He finished a PhD project on models and representation in philosophy of science at TU Delft (NL). The thesis has to be defended yet. Currently, he is officially still a PhD candidate at TU Delft but he also holds a position as researcher at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in the research group WTP: Philosophy of Science, Engineering and Technology.

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