On Rationales for Cognitive Values in the Assessment of Scientific Representations

Gertrude Hirsch Hadorn
2018 Journal for General Philosophy of Science, Zeitschrift für allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie  
Cognitive values like simplicity, broad scope, and easy handling are properties of a scientific representation that result from the idealization which is involved in the construction of a representation. These properties may facilitate the application of epistemic values to credibility assessments, which provides a rationale for assigning an auxiliary function to cognitive values. In this paper, I defend a further rationale for cognitive values which consists in the assessment of the usefulness
more » ... of a representation. Usefulness includes the relevance of a representation regarding the investigation of a given problem and its practicability for the users. This rationale builds on the claim that any evaluation of scientific representations should pursue two aims: providing information about their credibility and providing information about their usefulness. Cognitive values relating to the usefulness of a representation and epistemic values relating to its credibility both perform a first-order function. Cognitive values are abstract, and several values with firstorder functions may conflict in their application. Thus, in order for cognitive values to account for the sort of problem that is to be investigated by means of a representation, they need to be appropriately specified and weighed. Comprehensiveness, complexity, high resolution, and easy handling, for instance, may be required in a first-order function for model-based prediction of regional climate impacts but not for explaining how the global climate system works. Specifying and weighing cognitive and epistemic values relative to a given problem is a legitimate second-order function of social values.
doi:10.1007/s10838-018-9403-6 fatcat:6sqaya3hardafhymowxzft24mu