Research Projects

(1) The Normativity of Rationality Requirements
(2) Scientific Neutrality and Deliberation

The Normativity of Rationality Requirements

Research period : Fall 2014 – present
Support : Interuniversity Research Group on Normativity, Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC) and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC)

The question that I am concerned with is whether rationality is normative. Rationality requires various things of agents. Presumably, rationality requires maintaining coherent combinations of beliefs and intentions, as well as avoiding akrasia. Also, it seems that the property of being rational supervenes on attitudes–that is, if two agents have exactly the same attitudes, they respect and violate the same rationality requirements.

There cannot be a satisfactory answer to the normative question without offering an account of (i) rational permissions and obligations, and (ii) the unity of rationality requirements. In particular, the possibility of epistemically permissive situations, rational akrasia and pragmatic reasons for belief have a serious impact on how to answer the normative question.

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Scientific Neutrality and Deliberation

Bibliothèque_Sainte-Geneviève_1859Research period : Winter 2012Fall 2016
Support : Interuniversity Research Group on Normativity, Canada Research Chair in Practical Epistemology and Fonds de recherche du Québec – Société et culture (FRQSC)

Scientific neutrality refers to various accounts of science, such as the value-free ideal defended by positivists or the Weberian account of axiological neutrality. Roughly, the issues are (1) whether science should be guided by contextual (ethical or political) values and (2) whether there is a justified procedure for choosing them.

I have argued that scientific neutrality is not a consequence of the fact/value dichotomy, and so that the value-free ideal defended by posivitists should be rejected. Instead, I have claimed that scientific neutrality should rely on ethical or political values, but that these values must be compatible with the epistemic norms of science. I have also suggested that a deliberative procedure for choosing such values respects these requirements. My view is inspired by recent works on epistemic democracy.