Potential MA topics in Philosophy of Science
The Chair of Philosophy of Science teaches a variety of general and special courses related to philosophy of science. Our research topics are related to the studies of science as practice. They include the distinguishing features of exact scientific knowledge, the empirical methodologies of science studies, the role of empirical findings in philosophy of science; philosophy of physics, chemistry, biology and humanities.
Endla Lõhkivi: potential topics of supervision
1. Conceptual change in the (history) of science
Scientific theories have been replaced by new and supposedly better ones through the history of contemporary science. With every such a change new theoretical concepts have been introduced. How should one understand the conceptual change, how does it occur, on what ground, etc?
Andersen, H., Barker, P., Chen, X. (2006). The Cognitive Structures of Scientific Revolutions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Bird, A. (2002) Kuhn’s wrong turning Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 33, 443–463.
2. Interdisciplinarity in philosophy of science perspective
Philosophy of science has until recently dealt only with disciplinary scientific research and the epistemic issues emerging from the collaborating disciplines have not been investigated thoroughly. For instance the issue of epistemic dependence of the representatives of different disciplines necessary in interdisciplinary research groups: how are trust and reliability achieved and sustained in the research practice?
Andersen, H. (2016) „Collaboration, interdisciplinarity, and the epistemology of contemporary science“ Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 56 (2016) 1-10.
Huutoniemi, K. “Interdisciplinarity as Academic Accountability: Prospects for Quality Control Across Disciplinary Boundaries.” Social Epistemology 30, no. 2 (2016): 163-185.
Klein J Thompson 1990. Interdisciplinarity: history, theory, and practice. Wayne State University, Detroit.
Nagatsu & MacLeod 2018. “What does interdisciplinarity look like in practice: Mapping interdisciplinarity and its limits in the environmental sciences” Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, Part A.
Osbeck Lisa & M. Nancy J. Nersessian 2017. „Epistemic Identities in Interdisciplinary Science" Perspectives on Science 2017, vol. 25, no. 2, 226-260.
3. Social nature of scientific knowledge
It has become a common sense that scientific research and knowledge produced in the sciences are essentially social, as research is a collective work and knowledge produced is collectively evaluated and acknowledged in the course of social procedures. What makes these procedures essentially social? Can’t they be reduced and explained via interacting individuals’ intentions?
Kusch, M. (2010), „Social Epistemology“, in Sven Bernecker und Duncan Pritchard (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Epistemology, London: Routledge, 873-884.
Kusch, M. (2002) Knowledge by agreement, Oxford University Press.
4. Epistemic injustice
When research outcomes in science are evaluated not on the basis of epistemic criteria, but rather it’s power relations and social position in the organization that determine the result, it is called epistemic injustice. It may lead to the exclusion of certain socially marginal groups from science and thus their perspectives and input will be lost. In actual research situations, epistemic injustice appears via a chain of minor evaluations and exclusions. How to identify those and how to avoid epistemic injustice?
Wylie, A. (2011). What knowers know well: women, work and the academy. In H. E. Grasswick (Ed.). Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science: Power in Knowledge (157-179). Heidelberg, London, New York: Dordrecht.
B. Wray 2007 „Evaluating Scientists: Examining the Effects of Sexism and Nepotism,“ Value-free Science? Ideals and Illusions, ed by H. Kincaid, J. Dupré & A. Wylie, OUP, 87-106
5. How matter comes to matter? The role of instruments and technology in knowledge production
In contemporary epistemology of science, material circumstances, practices and equipment have been recognized as playing an important role in knowledge production. Why and how?
D. Baird 2004 Thing Knowledge, University of California Press.
K. Barad 2003 „Posthumanist Performativity: Toward an Understanding of How Matter Comes to Matter“ In Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, vol. 28, no. 3.
A. Wylie 2002 Thinking from Things Essays in the Philosophy of Archaeology University of California Press.
B. Latour 1983 Give me a Laboratory and I will Raise the World. In Science Observed: Perspectives in the Social Study of Science. Knorr-Cetina & Mulkay, eds. London: Sage Publications, 141 – 70.
B. Latour 1993 We have never been modern, Harvard University Press.
B. Latour 2014 Me pole kunagi olnud modernsed, Tallinna Ülikooli kirjastus.
Jaana Eigi: potential topics for supervision
Social aspects of science (social accounts of scientific objectivity, rationality etc; epistemic analyses of scientific institutions and social practices; epistemic injustice, inclusion and exclusion in scientific community); science and democracy; science and public participation; science and values; inductive risk
Philosophy of Helen Longino; Philip Kitcher; Heather Douglas
Together with Endla Lõhkivi and Katrin Velbaum: empirically based studies of academic cultures and their epistemic significance
Some examples of relevant literature
Biddle, Justin B. (2014). Can patents prohibit research? On the social epistemology of patenting and licensing in science. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, Vol. 45, pp. 14–23.
Douglas, Heather E. (2000). Inductive risk and values in science. Philosophy of Science, Vol. 67, No. 4, pp. 559–579.
Douglas, Heather E. (2009). Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.
Kitcher, Philip (1997a). An argument about free inquiry. Noûs, Vol. 31, No. 3, pp. 279–306.
Kitcher, Philip (2003). Science, Truth, and Democracy. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press (first published 2001).
Longino, Helen E. (1995). Gender, politics, and the theoretical virtues. Synthese, Vol. 104, No. 3, pp. 383–397.
Longino, Helen E. (2002). The Fate of Knowledge. Princeton; Oxford: Princeton University Press.
Rolin, Kristina (2002). Gender and trust in science. Hypatia, Vol. 17, No. 4, pp. 95–118.
Rudner, Richard (1953). The scientist qua scientist makes value judgements. Philosophy of Science, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 1–6.
Solomon, Miriam (1994). Social empiricism. Noûs, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 325–343.
Wylie, Alison (2015). A plurality of pluralisms: Collaborative practice in archaeology. In: Padovani, Flavia; Alan Richardson and Jonathan Y. Tsou (Eds.), Objectivity in Science: New Perspectives from Science and Technology Studies (Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science 310), pp. 189–210. Cham: Springer.
Some examples of my work
Eigi, Jaana (2017). Different motivations, similar proposals: objectivity in scientific community and democratic science policy. Synthese, Vol. 194, No. 12, pp. 4657−4669.
Eigi, Jaana (2015). On the social nature of objectivity: Helen Longino and Justin Biddle. THEORIA. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 449−463
Edit Talpsepp: potential topics for supervision
The topics related to Philosophy of Biology, but especially:
- Essentialist thinking and its implications concerning biological species and human groups
- Different notions of essentialism (including ‘psychological essentialism’ and the related issues)
- The conflict between essentialist thinking and evolutionary theory
- The questions related to the species problem
- The relationship between biological and social sphere (such as the relationship between the issues of philosophy of biology and human rights, the questions related to the evolutionary origin of morality etc.)
- Biological classification
- The questions related to evolutionary psychology
- Darwinian revolution and other issues related to history of biology
- The questions related to the notion of ‘natural kinds’
The reading list of the materials introducing the potential topics to supervise:
Ereshefsky, Marc, "Species", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Bird, Alexander and Tobin, Emma, "Natural Kinds", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Downes, Stephen M., "Evolutionary Psychology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Ereshefsky, Marc (2004). The poverty of the Linnaean Hierarchy: A Philosophical Study of Biological Taxonomy. Cambridge University Press.
Gelman, Susan "Essentialism in Everyday Thought"
Talpsepp, Edit "Introducing the Relationship between Human Rights Issues and Philosophy of Biology", UT Blog
Wilson, R. A. (1999). Species: New interdisciplinary essays. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Okasha, S. (2004). ‘Darwinian Metaphysics: Species and the Question of Essentialism’. Synthese. Vol. 131, No. 2, pp. 191-213
Dupre, J. (1993). The disorder of things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science. Harvard University Press.
Ruse, M. (2009). ‘The Darwinian revolution: rethinking its meaning and significance’. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2009 Jun 16; 106 (Suppl 1): 10040–10047.
FitzPatrick, William, "Morality and Evolutionary Biology", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Haslam, N. & Rothschild, L. (2000). ‘Essentialist beliefs about social categories’. British Journal of Social Psychology (2000), 39, 113-127
Ave Mets: potential topics for supervision
Practical realist or naturalist philosophy of science, primarily exact sciences; measurement theory; philosophy of technology; philosophy of nature
Philosophers (no exclusive list): Ronald Giere; Joseph Rouse; Rein Vihalemm; Ilya Prigogine; Hasok Chang
Examples of possible reading:
Giere, Ronald N. (1988). Explaining Science: A Cognitive Approach. The University of Chicago Press
Giere, Ronald N. (2006). “Perspectival Pluralism”. In Scientific Pluralism. Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. XIX (edited by Stephen H. Kellert, Helen C. Longino and C. Kenneth Waters), Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 26–41
Giere, Ronald N. (2008). “Models, Metaphysics, and Methodology”. In Nancy Cartwright’s Philosophy of Science (edited by Stephan Hartmann, Carl Hoefer and Luc Bovens), New York and London: Routledge, 123–133
Giere, Ronald N. (2010). An agent-based conception of models and scientific representation. Synthese 172, 269–281
Chang, Hasok (2012). Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism. Dordrecht Springer
Cartwright, Nancy (2005 ). The Dappled World. A Study of the Boundaries of Science. Cambridge University Press
Cartwright, Nancy Delaney (1983). How The Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Cartwright, Nancy Delaney (1989). Nature’s Capacities and Their Measurement. Oxford University Press
Vihalemm, Rein (2016). Science, ϕ-science and the dual character of chemistry. In Scerri, E. and Fisher, G. (2016), Essays in the Philosophy of Chemistry (pp. 352-280). Oxford University Press
Vihalemm, R. (2011). Towards a Practical Realist Philosophy of Science. Baltic Journal of European Studies 1(9), 46-60
Scharff, R.C., & Dusek, V. (Eds.) (2003). Philosophy of technology: The techno¬logical condition: An anthology. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing
Heisenberg, W. (1958). The representation of nature in contemporary physics. Daedalus, 87 (3), 95-108
Glazebrook, T. (2000). From φύσις to nature, τέχνη to technology: Heidegger on Aristotle, Galileo, and Newton. The Southern Journal of Philosophy, 38 (1), 95–118
Glazebrook, T. (1998). Heidegger on the experiment. Philosophy Today: A Quarterly Survey of Trends and Research in Philosophy Directed to the Interests of Scholars and Teachers within the Christian Tradition, 42 (3), 250–261
Rouse, Joseph. 2002. How Scientific Practices Matter. Reclaiming Philosophical Naturalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press
Boumans, Marcel. 2005. Measurement outside the laboratory. Philosophy of Science 72: 850-863
Below is a short overview of the research projects that the Chair of Philosophy of Science is involved with – these topics are opportunities to offer students hands-on research experience and supervision:
Disagreements. We study the nature of scientific concepts through the processes of historical change. Also, in the same project, we investigate the concept of well-organised science, the ideas about how disagreements can be fruitful for scientific progress. We have proposed an empirical project for the study of disciplinary stereotypes and prejudices which prevent researchers from collaboration in interdisciplinary research.
Materiality. We participate in the COST project 'New Materialism: Networking European Scholarship on How Matter Comes to Matter' which joins over twenty European research teams working on the role of the material conditions for knowledge production.
Practical realism. We develop ideas of the account of science Professor Rein Vihalemm has suggested as an alternative to traditional metaphysical realism, social constructivism and internal realism. Practical realism provides a philosopher the opportunity to take historical and cultural contexts of knowledge production seriously in the philosophical analysis. A series of case studies is being carried out in history of science and contemporary scientific practice.
Biological essentialism. Edit Talpsepp is investigating biological classifications, the concept of biological kind, essentialism and its implications.