Lacey's Concept of Value-Free Science

Miroslav Vacura


Many philosophers of science have maintained that science should be value-free; still others believe that such ideal is neither achievable nor desirable for science. Hugh Lacey is presently one of the main supporters of the idea of value-free science and his theory is probably the most debated today and attracts the most attention and criticism. Therefore, in this text, I will primarily analyze his theory of value-free science. After briefly defining the notion of value I highlight which strategy Lacey chooses to lay a firm foundation for the concept of science without value, with his starting point being the differentiation between cognitive and non-cognitive values. Then I describe three basic characteristics of Lacey’s value-free science: impartiality, neutrality, and autonomy. However, the overall plan and design of his project, together with some concrete steps he takes, are not without problems in our view. I will try to point out some of these problematic issues and provide brief suggestions for alleviating them.


value-free science; impartiality; neutrality; autonomy

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