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

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Are the Right Values all you need? A Critical Examination of a Proposed Solution to the Problem of Wishful Thinking

In this essay, we critically examine the thesis that the problem of wishful thinking is significantly reduced if one has the correct moral or political values. We argue that, even when a moral or political claim is unequivocal, its connection to an empirical hypothesis is frequently underdetermined. Consequently, people often make mistakes about the relationships among moral and empirical claims (e.g., mistakenly assuming that a specific empirical hypothesis conflicts with an important moral value). This situation can lead to wishful thinking in the form of unreasonably discounting evidence for the disfavored hypothesis while uncritically exaggerating evidence for its alternatives.

Author Information:

Daniel Steel    
School of Population and Public Health
University of British Columbia

Heather Douglas    
Department of Philosophy
University of Waterloo


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