David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 22 (2):211 – 225 (2008)
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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