Human Genetics and the Value of Non-epistemic Values for Restituting Identity in Argentine

Livio Mattarollo


Within the context of the discussion about value-free science ideal, Heather Douglas claims that in several cases non-epistemic values are needed for good reasoning in science. In this article I aim at recovering her viewpoint in order to examine the research driving to the Genetic Grandparent Inclusion-Probability Index, a crucial element to restitute the identity of children who were abducted during Argentinean dictatorship (1976-1983). Thus, my purposes are (i) to reconstruct Douglas´ main theoretical contributions, specifically her reasons to reject the ideal as well as the distinction between direct and indirect roles for values in science; and (ii) to analyze the scientific paper resulting from the “Grandparent-Inclusion Index” research. The main hypothesis is (iii) that several decisions of this research, particularly the establishment of what is to be considered sufficient evidence, should be explained by reference to social, ethical and political values. Both because of the non-epistemic consequences of the inquiry related to its inductive risk and because such inquiry is a case in which there is legitimate and necessary integration between epistemic and non-epistemic values and that it is also a case in which Douglas’ criteria of objectivity is reached. By virtue of these reasons, the significance of Douglas’ contribution to the analysis of the relationship between science and politics is emphasized.


Heather Douglas; inductive risk; objectivity; grandparent inclusion; probability index; human rights


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