Finnur Dellsén: Bias in Science
Underdetermination, Inductive Risk, and Theoretical Discovery
Feminist philosophers of science have argued that various biases can and do influence the results of scientific investigations. Two kinds of arguments have been most influential: On the one hand, it has been argued that biased assumptions frequently bridge the gap between observation and theory associated with ‘the underdetermination thesis’. On the other hand, it has been argued that biased value judgments determine when the evidence in favor of a particular theory is considered sufficiently strong for the theory to be accepted as true. This paper argues that bias can influence the results of scientific investigations via a hird route. Briefly, biases can and do influence which theories are seriously proposed and considered in scientific communities, which in turn leads to otherwise promising theories being ignored when scientists are choosing between such theories. In the final section, I suggest that this result speaks in favor of taking a quite radical approach to eliminating unwanted biases in science.
Keywords: Bias in science, scientific objectivity, underdetermination of theories, inductive risk, context of discovery.