The philosophy of science working group includes a core of five faculty whose expertise spans physical, biological, and social sciences. Bridging our diversity of field-specific interests is a shared commitment to ground philosophical analysis in a technical understanding of specific sciences; an interest in scientific practice and questions that are matters of active concern for practicing scientists; and active engagement with issues that fall under the rubric of values and science.
Our department regularly hosts a variety of workshops, lectures, and other events centered on philosophy of science. Check back regularly for updated listings!
- October 24: Pacific Northwest History & Philosophy of Science Workshop - Regional gathering organized by Andrea Woody (Philosophy) and Bruce Hevly (History)
- October 27: O'Hara Lecture - David Albert (Columbia University)
- April 4-9: Stice Lecturer - Philip Kitcher (Columbia University) | Stice Lecture | Spring Colloquium
Ongoing working groups
- Philosophy of Science discussion group: meets several times a quarter
- History of Science and STS working papers: meets weekly on Mondays
- Undergraduate Major in History and Philosophy of Science
- Graduate Certificate in Science, Technology, and Society Studies
- Science Studies Network
Methodology and evidential reasoning
Conor Mayo-Wilson investigates causal and statistical reasoning in medical research and the quantitative social sciences; Alison Wylie focuses on strategies of evidential reasoning in the social and historical sciences, especially archeology; Lynn Hankinson Nelson considers evidential issues in evolutionary biology and human evolutionary psychology. Andrea Woody explores the impact of computational techniques, including search algorithms, for optimization and directed discovery in the natural sciences. Carole Lee examines the methods used to detect bias in judgment in psychology and peer review.
Normative issues / science in context
We cultivate a shared interest in issues that fall under the rubric of ‘science and values’ and that reflect our commitment to attend to the dynamics of scientific practice. Carole Lee studies how bias in peer review can impact the content and demographic make-up of scientific communities, while Andrea Woody is interested in the role of disciplinarity and multi-disciplinarity in the construction and maintenance of modern scientific communities. Conor Mayo-Wilson is interested in how different types of diversity affect the reliability and speed of discovery in smaller research communities. Alison Wylie is an affiliate of the Program on Values in Society (PoV) and has a longstanding interest in research ethics and in the epistemic contributions of community based collaborative research.
Explanation, modeling and representation
Andrea Woody explores the ways in which explanatory practice can support a diverse set of epistemic aims in science. With a focus on the physical sciences, in particular, chemistry, she also considers the impact of representational choice (linguistic, mathematical, diagrammatic, graphical, etc.) on explanatory status and modeling efficacy; Conor Mayo-Wilson investigates the role of modeling (especially agent-based models) in the social sciences and in philosophy itself.
Ideals of objectivity and rationality
All of us are interested in the implications of our field and practice-specific technical analyses for ideals of objectivity. In particular, Carole Lee studies the role of concepts of rationality in cognitive science, and the social epistemic features of peer review within knowledge communities; Alison Wylie makes the case for procedural conceptions of objectivity that foreground the pragmatic, social interests that inform inquiry; and Andrea Woody’s work stresses aspects of instrumental rationality in relation to diverse epistemic and practical aims.
Feminist philosophy of science
Several of us have established specializations in feminist critiques of and contributions to the sciences. Lynn Hankinson Nelson focuses on the implications of feminist naturalized empiricism for understandings of feminist engagements with science, and Alison Wylie draws on feminist standpoint theory to understand the epistemic benefits of collaborative practice and diversity within epistemic communities.
For a comprehensive view of faculty and graduate students in our department with an interest in philosophy of science, as well as a their publications on philosophy of science, please see the following fields of interest pages:
- Philosophy of Biology
- Philosophy of Chemistry
- Philosophy of Science
- Research Methods
- Science and Technology
- Feminism and Feminist Theory
- Philosophy of Social Science
- Intertheoretic Relations in Context: Details, Purpose, and Practice
- Values in Science: The Distinction Between the Context of Discovery and the Context of Justification
- Expert Testimony and the Transmission of Scientific Knowledge
- Physical Systems: Conceptual Pathways between Space-time and Matter
- The Quantum--to-Classical Transition: Decoherence and Beyond
- On a Cladistic Taxonomy for Biological Traits
- Should Science Be Value Free? Rethinking the Role of Moral and Political Values in the Justification of Scientific Theories
- Analogical Reasoning in Scientific Practice: The Problem of Ingrained Analogies
Dissertations in Progress
- Turning to Practice to Articulate Senses in which Science is Social and Collective
- Philosophy of Science, Neuroengineering, and the Challenge of Technoscientific Accountability
- Naturalism, Metaphysics, and the Scientific Attitude: Prospects for a Revisionary Scientific Metaphysics