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Heather Douglas

Associate Professor, (Waterloo Chair in Science and Society)

Contact Information

Heather Douglas portraitOffice: HH 320
Phone: 519-888-4567 x32290
Webpages: and

Heather Douglas is also an Associate Director at the Waterloo Institute for Sustainable Energy (WISE).


PhD, University of Pittsburgh
BA, University of Delaware

Areas of Interest

Philosophy of Science, Values in Science, Science and Policy, Social Epistemology, History of Philosophy of Science

Current Research

I focus on the interface between science and policy, including the use of science in policy-making and policies for science. Examination of these areas sharpens our general understanding of the nature of science. For example, I have argued that the value-free ideal for science is an inadequate ideal, for both epistemic and moral reasons arising from the importance of science for policy-making. Articulating an alternative ideal is a central part of my recent book. Because values are important to the process of science, new roles for the public in that process become apparent. I also work on the moral responsibilities of scientists with respect to their work, how to understand scientific integrity, and how the institutional structures of science help or hinder scientists in doing their work with integrity and responsibility. In addition, I work on how to combine or weigh evidence from multiple disciplinary perspectives, which has implications for scientific reasoning generally. Finally, I have an ongoing interest in the history of philosophy of science, particularly how the discipline of philosophy of science emerged in the mid-20th century from the logical empiricist movements of the early 20th century, and how that emergence has shaped the field.

Academic Biography

I received my PhD in History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) at the University of Pittsburgh in 1998. From 1998-2004, I was the Phibbs Assistant Professor of Science and Ethics at the University of Puget Sound. I then went to the Department of Philosophy at the University of Tennessee (2004-2011). I spent a year at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh as a visiting fellow (2010-2011) and a semester as a visiting professor in HPS at Pitt before taking up my position at the University of Waterloo in 2012.

Selected Publications

Additional work can be found on my personal website.

  • "Pure Science and the Problem of Progress," Studies in History and Philosophy of Science.
  • The Moral Terrain of Science,” Erkenntnis,
    DOI 10.1007/s10670-013-9538-0 (2013)
  • The Value of Cognitive Values,” Philosophy of Science (2013),
    vol. 80, pp. 796-806.
  • State of the Field: Why novel prediction matters” (2013), co-authored with P.D. Magnus, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, vol. 44, pp. 580-589.
  • “Weighing Complex Evidence in a Democratic Society” (2012), Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, vol. 22, pp. 139-162.

  • “Facts, Values, and Objectivity” (2011), The SAGE Handbook of the Philosophy of Social Science, Ian Jarvie and Jesús Zamora-Bonilla, eds., Sage Publications, pp. 513-529.
  • “Engagement for Progress: Applied Philosophy of Science in Context” (2010), Synthese, vol. 177, pp. 317-335.
  • Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal, University of Pittsburgh Press, (2009). (Reviews: Isis; NDPR; Risk Analysis; Science & Engineering Ethics; Studies in HPS; Theoria)
  • “Reintroducing Prediction to Explanation” (2009), Philosophy of Science, vol. 76, pp. 444-463.
  • “The Role of Values in Expert Reasoning” (2008), Public Affairs Quarterly vol. 22, no. 1, pp. 1-18.
  • “Science, Hormesis, and Regulation” (2008), Human and Experimental Toxicology, vol. 27, 603-607.
  • “Rejecting the Ideal of Value-Free Science” (2007), in Value-Free Science? Ideals and Illusions, Harold Kincaid, John Dupré, and Alison Wylie (eds.), Oxford University Press, pp. 120-139.
  • “Inserting the Public into Science” (2005), in Democratization of Expertise? Exploring Novel Forms of Scientific Advice in Political Decision-Making, Sociology of the Sciences vol. 24, Sabine Maasen and Peter Weingart (eds.), Springer, pp. 153-169.
  • “The Irreducible Complexity of Objectivity” (2004), Synthese, vol. 138, no. 3, pp. 453-473.
  • “The Moral Responsibilities of Scientists: Tensions between Autonomy and Responsibility” (2003), American Philosophical Quarterly, vol. 40, no. 1, pp. 59-68.
  • “Inductive Risk and Values in Science” (2000), Philosophy of Science, vol. 67, n. 4, pp. 559-579.


Public Talks Online

Elected Professional Offices

  • 2014-2017: Electorate Nominating Committee, Section L (History and Philosophy of Science), American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2009-2013: Member-at-Large, Section L (History and Philosophy of Science), American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • 2007-2010: Governing Board for the Philosophy of Science Association
  • 2007-2009: International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science Steering Committee Member

Grants, Fellowships, Awards

  • 2013-2016: Institute for Science, Society, and Policy Fellow, University of Ottawa
  • 2013: Lois Claxton Humanities and Social Sciences Award ($5500)
  • 2010-2011: National Science Foundation Grant #1026999, “Scholars Award: Explanatory Weight of Evidence Analysis” ($110,798)
  • 2010-2011: Center for Philosophy of Science Visiting Fellow, University of Pittsburgh

Recent Graduate Supervision and Teaching

  • Philosophy of Science 1900-1960 (2013-University of Waterloo)
  • Science and Democracy (2012—University of Waterloo)
  • Science and Values (2011—University of Pittsburgh)
University of Waterloo

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