•  260
    The aim of this paper is to address the neglected but important problem of differentiating between epistemically beneficial and epistemically detrimental dissent. By “dissent,” we refer to the act of objecting to a particular conclusion, especially one that is widely held. While dissent in science can clearly be beneficial, there might be some instances of dissent that not only fail to contribute to scientific progress, but actually impede it. Potential examples of this include the tobacco indus…Read more
  •  254
    State of the field: Transient underdetermination and values in science
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1): 124-133. 2013.
    This paper examines the state of the field of “science and values”—particularly regarding the implications of the thesis of transient underdetermination for the ideal of value-free science, or what I call the “ideal of epistemic purity.” I do this by discussing some of the main arguments in the literature, both for and against the ideal. I examine a preliminary argument from transient underdetermination against the ideal of epistemic purity, and I discuss two different formulations of an objecti…Read more
  •  219
    On Predicting Recidivism: Epistemic Risk, Tradeoffs, and Values in Machine Learning
    Canadian Journal of Philosophy 52 (3): 321-341. 2022.
    Recent scholarship in philosophy of science and technology has shown that scientific and technological decision making are laden with values, including values of a social, political, and/or ethical character. This paper examines the role of value judgments in the design of machine-learning systems generally and in recidivism-prediction algorithms specifically. Drawing on work on inductive and epistemic risk, the paper argues that ML systems are value laden in ways similar to human decision makin…Read more
  •  185
    Criticism plays an essential role in the growth of scientific knowledge. In some cases, however, criticism can have detrimental effects; for example, it can be used to ‘manufacture doubt’ for the purpose of impeding public policy making on issues such as tobacco consumption and greenhouse gas emissions (e.g., Oreskes & Conway 2010). In this paper, we build on previous work by Biddle and Leuschner (2015) who argue that criticism that meets certain conditions can be epistemically detrimental. We e…Read more
  •  141
    Inductive Risk, Epistemic Risk, and Overdiagnosis of Disease
    Perspectives on Science 24 (2): 192-205. 2016.
    . Recent philosophers of science have not only revived the classical argument from inductive risk but extended it. I argue that some of the purported extensions do not fit cleanly within the schema of the original argument, and I discuss the problem of overdiagnosis of disease due to expanded disease definitions in order to show that there are some risks in the research process that are important and that very clearly fall outside of the domain of inductive risk. Finally, I introduce the notion …Read more
  •  133
    Since the early 1980s, private, for-profit corporations have become increasingly involved in all aspects of scientific research, especially of biomedical research. In this essay, I argue that there are dangerous epistemic consequences of this trend, which should be more thoroughly examined by social epistemologists. In support of this claim, I discuss a recent episode of pharmaceutical research involving the painkiller Vioxx. I argue that the research on Vioxx was epistemically problematic and t…Read more
  •  107
    “Antiscience Zealotry”? Values, Epistemic Risk, and the GMO Debate
    Philosophy of Science 85 (3): 360-379. 2018.
    This article argues that the controversy over genetically modified crops is best understood not in terms of the supposed bias, dishonesty, irrationality, or ignorance on the part of proponents or critics, but rather in terms of differences in values. To do this, the article draws on and extends recent work of the role of values and interests in science, focusing particularly on inductive risk and epistemic risk, and it shows how the GMO debate can help to further our understanding of the various…Read more
  •  83
    Putting pragmatism to work in the Cold War: Science, technology, and politics in the writings of James B. Conant
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4): 552-561. 2011.
    This paper examines James Conant’s pragmatic theory of science – a theory that has been neglected by most commentators on the history of 20th-century philosophy of science – and it argues that this theory occupied an important place in Conant’s strategic thinking about the Cold War. Conant drew upon his wartime science policy work, the history of science, and Quine’s epistemological holism to argue that there is no strict distinction between science and technology, that there is no such thing as…Read more
  •  60
    Helen Longino’s “contextual empiricism” is one of the most sophisticated recent attempts to defend a social theory of science. On this view, objectivity and epistemic acceptability require that research be produced within communities that approximate a Millian marketplace of ideas. I argue, however, that Longino’s embedding of her epistemology within the framework of Mill’s political liberalism implies a conception of individual epistemic agents that is incompatible with her view that scientific…Read more
  •  57
    From the title, Deadly Medicines and Organised Crime: How Big Pharma has Corrupted Healthcare, Peter Gøtzsche makes the thesis of his book very clear. Not only does the pharmaceutical industry contribute to detrimental health outcomes through biased research, deceptive marketing, and disease mongering, but the industry’s business model meets the criteria of an organized criminal operation. Gøtzsche argues for this in two parts. First, he defines organized crime by drawing upon the United States …Read more
  •  51
    Can patents prohibit research? On the social epistemology of patenting and licensing in science
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 45 14-23. 2014.
    A topic of growing importance within philosophy of science is the epistemic implications of the organization of research. This paper identifies a promising approach to social epistemology—nonideal systems design—and uses it to examine one important aspect of the organization of research, namely the system of patenting and licensing and its role in structuring the production and dissemination of knowledge. The primary justification of patenting in science and technology is consequentialist in nat…Read more
  •  42
    Many philosophers argue that the emphasis on commercializing scientific research---and particularly on patenting the results of research---is both epistemically and socially detrimental, in part because it inhibits the flow of information. One of the most important of these criticisms is the ``tragedy of the anticommons'' thesis. Some have attempted to test this thesis empirically, and many have argued that these empirical tests effectively falsify the thesis. I argue that they neither falsify n…Read more
  •  41
    Institutionalizing Dissent: A Proposal for an Adversarial System of Pharmaceutical Research
    Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 23 (4): 325-353. 2013.
    Many observers now acknowledge that there are serious problems with the way in which pharmaceutical research is currently practiced. These problems include the suppression of undesirable results, bias in the design of studies and in the interpretation of results, and neglect of diseases that afflict the poor in developing countries. These problems can be traced at least in part to the influence of commercial interests on research. In what follows, I will discuss some of the main deficiencies of …Read more
  •  39
    Epistemic risks in cancer screening: Implications for ethics and policy
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 79 101200. 2020.
  •  29
    This paper addresses an apparent dilemma that must be resolved in order to respond ethically to global climate change. The dilemma can be presented as follows. Responding ethically to global climate change requires technological innovation that is accessible to everyone, including inhabitants of the least developed countries. Technological innovation, according to many, requires strong intellectual property protection, but strong intellectual property protection makes it highly unlikely that pat…Read more