Models And Trust: Highlighting Issues Across Science

On Managing Values in Science: A Return to Decision Theory

Eric Winsberg (University of South Florida; Cambridge)

There are many proposals in the literature on how to “manage values”. What many of these proposals have in common is that they assume that the relevant values in science can be “packaged for transfer”: that is, values are something that can be put in an envelope for scientists to hand to stakeholders or policymakers, or for members of the public or ethical experts to hand to scientists. The central aim of this paper is to argue that packaging values for transfer is a practical impossibility. Once we return to the decision theoretic definition of values (the definition implied in the Rudner/Jeffrey exchange), we see that any proposal that depends on packaging values for transfer will ultimately suffer from great difficulties. Instead, scientists working in especially policy-relevant areas, particularly scientists building policy-relevant models, must engage their stakeholders directly in their methodological decision making if they hope to address the problems that the phrase “managing values in science” is directed at.