Matters of demarcation: Philosophy, biology, and the evolving fraternity between disciplines

The influence that philosophy of science has had on scientific practice is as controversial as it is undeniable, especially in the case of biology. The dynamic between philosophy and biology as disciplines has developed along two different lines that can be characterized as 'paternal', on the one hand, and more 'fraternal', on the other. The role Popperian principles of demarcation and falsifiability have played in both the systematics community as well as the ongoing evolution-creation debates illustrate these contrasting forms of interdisciplinary engagement, underscoring the influence philosophy of science in shaping our contemporary understanding of biology in the North American context. However, a strict disciplinary distinction between philosophy and science may itself be a false dichotomy that risks hampering future development of the biological sciences. By actively engaging with philosophical considerations as an integral part of their scientific practice, nineteenth-century biologists offer an interesting counterpoint to current trends of overspecialization and provide a model of scientists who avoided extremes of antagonism with, or subservience to, philosophy.
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    Helge Kragh (forthcoming). Testability and Epistemic Shifts in Modern Cosmology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
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