Philosophical intervention and cross-disciplinary science: the story of the Toolbox Project

Synthese 190 (11):1937-1954 (2013)
In this article we argue that philosophy can facilitate improvement in cross-disciplinary science. In particular, we discuss in detail the Toolbox Project, an effort in applied epistemology that deploys philosophical analysis for the purpose of enhancing collaborative, cross-disciplinary scientific research through improvements in cross-disciplinary communication. We begin by sketching the scientific context within which the Toolbox Project operates, a context that features a growing interest in and commitment to cross-disciplinary research (CDR). We then develop an argument for the leading idea behind this effort, namely, that philosophical dialogue can improve cross-disciplinary science by effecting epistemic changes that lead to better group communication. On the heels of this argument, we describe our approach and its output; in particular, we emphasize the Toolbox instrument that generates philosophical dialogue and the Toolbox workshop in which that dialogue takes place. Together, these constitute a philosophical intervention into the life of CDR teams. We conclude by considering the philosophical implications of this intervention.
Keywords Toolbox Project  Philosophical intervention  Applied epistemology  Cross-disciplinary research  Collaboration  Communication
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-012-0175-y
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Michael Polanyi (1958). Personal Knowledge. Chicago, University of Chicago Press.
Harry Collins, Robert Evans & Mike Gorman (2007). Trading Zones and Interactional Expertise. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (4):657-666.

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