I’ll be speaking at the Philo of Sci Association (PSA): Philosophy IN Science: Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science?


Philosophy in Science: Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science?
     on November 13, 2-4 pm


This session revolves around the intriguing question: Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science? They’re calling it philosophy “in” science–when philosophical ministrations actually intervene in a science itself.  This is the session I’ll be speaking in. I hope you will come to our session if you’re there–it’s hybrid, so you can’t see it through a remote link. But I’d like to hear what you think about this question–in the comments to this post.

Aris Spanos will be the presenter of a joint contribution at the session (Current debates on Statistical Modeling and Inference) that I posted on earlier (Saturday Nov 13, 9-12:15). This is the PSA’s  biennial meeting (one year late)–live/hybrid/remote*– and I plan to be there! (my first in-person meeting since Feb 2020).

Here are the members and talks (Link to session/abstracts):

  • Thomas Pradeu (CNRS & University Of Bordeaux) & Maël Lemoine (University Of Bordeaux): Philosophy in Science: Definition and Boundaries
  • Deborah Mayo (Virginia Tech): My Philosophical Interventions in Statistics
  • Elliott Sober (University Of Wisconsin – Madison): Philosophical Interventions in Science – a Strategy and a Case Study (Parsimony)
  • Randolph Nesse (Arizona State University) & Paul Griffiths (University of Sydney): How Evolutionary Science and Philosophy Can Collaborate to Redefine Disease

Session Abstract: Although the question of what philosophy can bring to science is an old topic, the vast majority of current philosophy of science is a meta-discourse on science, taking science as its object of study, rather than an attempt to intervene on science itself. In this symposium, we discuss a particular interventionist approach, which we call “philosophy in science (PinS)”, i.e., an attempt at using philosophical tools to make a significant scientific contribution. This approach remains rare, but has been very successful in a number of cases, especially in philosophy of biology, medicine, physics, statistics, and the social sciences. Our goal is to provide a description of PinS through both a bibliometric approach and the examination of specific case studies. We also aim to explain how PinS differs from mainstream philosophy of science and partly similar approaches such as “philosophy of science in practice”.

You have to register to participate, and be there in person to see our hybrid presentation. Let me know if you plan to attend!

*There’s a complex mix of viewing classifications, wherein only in-person people can view in person or hybrid sessions, but remote registrants can see all (but only) remote sessions.

Philosophy in Science: Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science?


Categories: Error Statistics

Post navigation

4 thoughts on “I’ll be speaking at the Philo of Sci Association (PSA): Philosophy IN Science: Can Philosophers of Science Contribute to Science?

  1. rauldiul

    Very interesting! Very ignorant question: can Popper’s concept of “falsiability” be considered an example of PinS in the cases where the idea has helped scientists better define, or identify flaws, in their development of scientific theories, statements, etc. ? (thus being used as a tool in science)

    • Rauldiul: Yes I definitely would view Popper as an exemplar, except that in his case, he really was directly engaged in philosophy of science. The scientists came to him as it were. They even changed their own problems as a result. I doubt I’d intervene at that level, but I have no doubt scientists are using this stuff from time to time. On Wednesday I’m speaking at a conference (on-line) held by the american Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) and I don’t find it at all far fetched that they will pose some of the questions in my presentation in their work–even though they would not have ordinarily. At least I hope so. We’ll see. I will post those slides after Thursday.

  2. It’s tough trying to intervene in science–I don’t care how interdisciplinary your department purports to be. The bottom line is—although I’m sure there are exceptions at certain times–your contribution won’t be quite one within the science nor quite within philosophy of science. You’ll be an outsider to both–a double imposter syndrome as the organizer of this session put it. On the other hand, I staunchly believe that an important job for philosophers of science is to intervene in sciences when they are wrestling with conceptual, logical, inferential quandaries. This is very much the case in current controversies in phil stat, and yet, by and large, philosophers of science are rarely involved in interventions. More on this later. Please share your views.

  3. Yes, you will be an imposter. If finally, they get to understand what you were saying they will say it again their own words and thereafter cite the scientist who did that, not you. C’est la vie.

    A great example of a place where philosophy did have an incredibly high influence on science is quantum physics. You could argue that physicist John Bell’s contributions were philosophy, not science. He himself said that he did them in the weekends and evenings. During the day he was a regular and indeed respected particle physicist at CERN. They challenged basic ground level physical assumptions about space and time and causality. They were first ignored for about five years. But slowly they led to a field called “experimental metaphysics”. This led to the fields of quantum information and quantum computation and this has already lead to new quantum technologies. Some are still controversial (quantum computing), some are already in routine use in science (quantum metrology).

Blog at WordPress.com.