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The Scientist qua Policy Advisor Makes Value Judgments

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


Richard Rudner famously argues that the communication of scientific advice to policy makers involves ethical value judgments. His argument has, however, been rightly criticized. This article revives Rudner's conclusion, by strengthening both his lines of argument: we generalize his initial assumption regarding the form in which scientists must communicate their results and complete his ‘backup’ argument by appealing to the difference between private and public decisions. Our conclusion that science advisors must, for deep-seated pragmatic reasons, make value judgments is further bolstered by reflections on how the scientific contribution to policy is far less straightforward than the Rudner-style model suggests.

Norms of Science and Science Policy
Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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Many thanks to Jan Sprenger, Jack Justus, Helen Regan, Hasok Chang, Rosa Runhardt, and Kevin Elliott for valuable feedback and comments on earlier versions of this article.


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