Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was in Springfield, Ill., Wednesday where she sought to use the symbolism of a historic landmark to draw parallels to a present-day America that is in need of repairing deepening racial and cultural divides.

The Old State Capitol — where Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous "A house divided" speech in 1858 warning against the ills of slavery and where Barack Obama launched his presidential bid in 2007 — served as the backdrop for Clinton as she spoke of how "America's long struggle with race is far from finished."

Episode 711: Hooked on Heroin

1 hour ago

When we meet the heroin dealer called Bone, he has just shot up. He has a lot to say anyway. He tells us about his career--it pretty much tracks the evolution of drug use in America these past ten years or so. He tells us about his rough past. And he tells us about how he died a week ago. He overdosed on his own supply and his friend took his body to the emergency room, then left.

New British Prime Minister Theresa May announced six members of her Cabinet Wednesday.

Amid a sweeping crackdown on dissent in Egypt, security forces have forcibly disappeared hundreds of people since the beginning of 2015, according to a new report from Amnesty International.

It's an "unprecedented spike," the group says, with an average of three or four people disappeared every day.

The Republican Party, as it prepares for its convention next week has checked off item No. 1 on its housekeeping list — drafting a party platform. The document reflects the conservative views of its authors, many of whom are party activists. So don't look for any concessions to changing views among the broader public on key social issues.

Many public figures who took to Twitter and Facebook following the murder of five police officers in Dallas have faced public blowback and, in some cases, found their employers less than forgiving about inflammatory and sometimes hateful online comments.

As Venezuela unravels — with shortages of food and medicine, as well as runaway inflation — President Nicolas Maduro is increasingly unpopular. But he's still holding onto power.

"The truth in Venezuela is there is real hunger. We are hungry," says a man who has invited me into his house in the northwestern city of Maracaibo, but doesn't want his name used for fear of reprisals by the government.

The wiry man paces angrily as he speaks. It wasn't always this way, he says, showing how loose his pants are now.

Ask a typical teenage girl about the latest slang and girl crushes and you might get answers like "spilling the tea" and Taylor Swift. But at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., the answers were "intersectional feminism" — the idea that there's no one-size-fits-all definition of feminism — and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

4 hours ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit


Is Science Value-Free?

Sep 24, 2013

According to a venerable way of thinking about science and its place in our lives, science is value-free. Science sets its sights on the facts. It is interested in the way the world is apart from inherently subjective matters of interpretation. Science can learn the facts without needing to take a stand on values. Science needn't concern itself with tedious and undecidable debates about matters of value.

But is this true?

I'm not interested in whether some scientists are biased, or dishonest, or whether the path of research is sometimes influenced unduly by the agencies or industries that fund research. These are important questions, but they take for granted that science is value-free in its workings, at least when it is not subject to corrupting influences from without.

No, my question is this: Is it ever true that science can be a value-free engagement with the facts as they are in themselves?

Here's a reason to be skeptical: as the philosopher Hilary Putnam has argued for years, science relies on epistemic values. A good scientist, like a good detective, uses his or her judgment. Not all possibilities are worth considering, not because they are impossible, or because the evidence at hand rules them out, but because, given what we know about how the world works in general, they seem irrelevant and far-fetched. It's not reasonable to worry about far-fetched possibilities.

Scientists seek to predict and to explain; they build theories that organize a wealth of information and they try to do so in ways that are simple and coherent and believable. How do you decide when you've landed on the truth? The truth is not like gold, with its own immutable features. You recognize the truth of that which it would be unreasonable to doubt in light of the weight of the evidence.

Reasonableness, explanatory adequacy, predictive power, simplicity, coherence — these are values one-and-all. And they are the stuff of science. Disagreement between scientists can come down to values. It can come down to whether they feel satisfied that they got the story right.

And all the more so when skepticism about science from without comes into play. When scientists try to engage with climate-change deniers or with defenders of so-called "intelligent design," what is at stake are not the facts as much as the values. The skeptics simply reject the epistemic values of science. Their positions are unreasonable and unsupported. But this is not a matter of fact. It is a matter of value!

What is the moral? I think it would be a mistake to conclude that a recognition of what Putnam calls the entanglement of fact and value should force us to view science as no better than open-ended moralizing, mere assertions of what "we" think. The upshot, rather, is that we need to elevate our assessment of the nature of conflicts in the domain of value.

The fact that we lack ways of settling these conflicts once and for all does not mean that there is not progress to be made in thinking them through together.

You can keep up with more of what Alva Noë is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @alvanoe

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit