On Scientific Evaluation and its relation to Understanding, Imagination, and Taste

Webpage for an essay by Oded Goldreich


This essay addresses the apparent conflict between the desire to view scientific evaluation as objective and the realization that it is inevitably subjective. I first argue that the same holds with respect to understanding, and that the subjective basis of both understanding and evaluation does not contradict their claim to universality (to the extent that such a claim can be made at all). Thus, I believe that the concerns regarding subjectivity are overrated. Next, I point out the significant role that imagination plays (or rather should play) in the evaluation process. Finally, I reject the claim that personal taste plays a significant role in scientific evaluation, arguing that almost all that is attributed to taste is actually not a matter of taste (provided that one uses a reasonable definition of taste).

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