Research Projects

I am interested in normative problems that combine ethics and epistemology. For example, what is the relevance of ideals in ethics and epistemology? Should we base our decisions on rational beliefs? In societies like ours, why should we promote diversity?

In addition to my current research on the recourse to ideals in epistemology and ethics, I have mostly worked on the following two projects:

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

The Normativity of Rationality

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

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.