PhilSci Archive

Shifting Attention From Theory to Practice in Philosophy of Biology

Waters, C. Kenneth (2013) Shifting Attention From Theory to Practice in Philosophy of Biology. [Preprint]

[img]
Preview
PDF
Waters_Theory_to_Practice_2013-9-14.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (270kB)

Abstract

Traditional approaches in philosophy of biology focus attention on biological concepts, explanations, and theories, on evidential support and inter-theoretical relations. Newer approaches shift attention from concepts to conceptual practices, from theories to practices of theorizing, and from theoretical reduction to reductive retooling. In this article, I describe the shift from theory-focused to practice-centered philosophy of science and explain how it is leading philosophers to abandon fundamentalist assumptions associated with traditional approaches in philosophy of science and to embrace scientific pluralism. This article comes in three parts, each illustrating the shift from theory-focused to practice-centered epistemology. The first illustration shows how shifting philosophical attention to conceptual practice reveals how molecular biologists succeed in identifying coherent causal strands within systems of bewildering complexity. The second illustration suggests that analyzing how a multiplicity of alternative models function in practice provides an illuminating approach for understanding the nature of theoretical knowledge in evolutionary biology. The third illustration demonstrates how framing reductionism in terms of the reductive retooling of practice offers an informative perspective for understanding why putting DNA at the center of biological research has been incredibly productive throughout much of biology. Each illustration begins by describing how traditional theory-focused philosophical approaches are laden with fundamentalist assumptions and then proceeds to show that shifting attention to practice undermines these assumptions and motivates a philosophy of scientific pluralism.


Export/Citation: EndNote | BibTeX | Dublin Core | ASCII/Text Citation (Chicago) | HTML Citation | OpenURL
Social Networking:
Share |

Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Waters, C. Kennethckwaters@umn.edu
Keywords: investigative practice gene concept evolutionary theory reductionism biology
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Depositing User: C. Kenneth Waters
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2013 17:55
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2013 17:55
Item ID: 10009
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Structure of Theories
Date: 14 September 2013
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/10009

Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Monthly Downloads for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item