PSA2016: The 25th Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association

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Trade-offs between Epistemic and Moral Values in Evidence-Based Policy

It is argued that there is a trade-off between epistemic and moral values in the evidence-based policy (EBP) paradigm. This trade-off obtains because standard EBP methods such as randomized controlled trials are uninformative about the distributive consequences of policy. While RCT evidence is useful for the pursuit of utilitarian values, it is insufficient for the pursuit of non-utilitarian values such as equality and priority for the worst off, since the pursuit of the latter requires information on the distributive consequences of policy. In order to remedy this situation, at least some EBP epistemic values need to be sacrificed. I argue that this trade-off challenges both value-freedom and neutrality in EBP.

Author Information:

Donal Khosrowi    
Durham University


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