Two virtues of science
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was disagreement over whether the science supported facemask mandates. This paper interrogates debates over this question, paying particular attention to an ambiguity between two scientific virtues: epistemic caution and epistemic responsiveness. I suggest that there is an argument from each virtue to reasons to trust scientists’ claims in policy debate. However, as the case of facemask debates illustrates, it is not clear that scientists can possess both virtues simultaneously: the two virtues are in tension. After showing how this general framework can help us better understand debate, I turn to consider some possible ways of resolving this tension, arguing that none of them is entirely satisfactory.