Scientific Values and Civic Virtues

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This volume of contributed essays, a follow-up to Noretta Koertge's successful book on the science wars, A House Built on Sand, takes an affirming, positive view of the relationship between the values embodied in science, and the nature of a civil society. It argues that recent attacks on the probity of science undermine the possibility of rational discourse in the political arena.

While science has traditionally been viewed as incorporating intellectual virtues like honesty and precision of language, the contributors to this volume point to additional benefits, examining the idea that science can serve as a source of, and inspiration for, civic virtues—in the need to be well-informed about the way the world works, in tolerating the viewpoints of others, and in functioning as a fully global enterprise dedicated to the public good. The contributors—who include philosophers, political scientists, physicists, biologists and engineers—look at examples of scientific virtues in action and how they might be used as inspirations and practical resources for improving civic society. The volume will appeal to a similarly broad audience interested in the relationship between science and society.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195172256
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 8/4/2005
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 9.10 (w) x 6.30 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Noretta Koertge is Emeritus Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at Indiana University and editor of A House Built on Sand (OUP, 1998).

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Table of Contents

What science can offer contemporary democracy 3
Pt. I The nexus between scientific values and civic virtues 5
1 A bouquet of scientific values 9
2 Public reason and democracy : the place of science in maintaining civic friendship 25
3 Reason and authority in the Middle Ages : the Latin West and Islam 40
4 Civic virtue and science in prerevolutionary Europe 59
5 Virtues and the scientific revolution 71
Pt. II Values revealed in the work of scientists 81
6 Candor and integrity in science 85
7 Evolutionary biology and the question of trust 99
8 The rise and fall of Emil Konopinski's theory of [beta] decay 120
9 The evolutionary ethics of Alfred C. Kinsey 135
Pt. III Sites of struggle : downgrading science while weakening democracy 155
10 Defending the radical center 159
11 Are postmodernist universities and scholarship undermining modern democracy? 172
12 The wedge of intelligent design : retrograde science, schooling, and society 191
13 When science teaching becomes a subversive activity 215
14 Postmodernism, Hindu nationalism, and "Vedic science" 220
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