``Intrinsically'' or just ``Instrumentally'' Valuable? On Structural Types of Values of Scientific Knowledge
Author: Kirschenmann, P.P.
Source: Journal for General Philosophy of Science, Volume 32, Number 2, 2001 , pp. 237-256(20)
Abstract:Debates about scientific (though rarely about other forms of) knowledge, research policies or academic training often involve a controversy about whether scientific knowledge possesses just ``instrumental'' value or also ``intrinsic'' value. Questioning this common simple opposition, I scrutinize the issues involved in terms of a greater variety of structural types of values attributable to (scientific) knowledge. (Intermittently, I address the puzzling habit of attributing ``intrinsic'' value to quite different things, e.g. also to nature, in environmental ethics.) After some remarks on relevant broader philosophical debates about scientific knowledge, I pave a path through the (terminological) thicket of structural types of values. Our initial simple opposition is shown to conflate the distinctions intrinsic/extrinsic and instrumental (or just useful)/final. Next, I consider the value(s) of knowledge and knowing in general and their possible value components (like the values of truth and justifiedness). After having discussed the types of value of everyday knowledge, especially its functional and constitutive value (notions introduced earlier), I argue that these can or should also be attributed to scientific knowledge, thus departing from both objectivist and sociological views of science. One could say that I offer a certain defense of the intrinsic value of scientific knowing (and the inherent value of scientific knowledge) and some important differentiations of its ``instrumental values''. I also caution (in relation with my puzzle) against drawing hasty moral conclusions.
Keywords: extrinsic; functional and constitutive value; inherent; instrumental; intrinsic; purescientific research; structuralvalue types; value and moral obligation; value components; values of (scientific) knowledge
Document Type: Regular Paper
Affiliations: Faculteit der Wijsbegeerte, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, NL–1081 HV Amsterdam
Publication date: January 1, 2001