This essay offers a critique of disciplinary philosophy, the dominant form of academic philosophy in the United States and elsewhere across the twentieth century. It argues that disciplinary philosophy represents an aberration compared to the main tradition of two thousand years of Western philosophy. It describes the characteristics of a dedisciplined philosophy, and emphasizes that dedisciplining philosophy requires attention to be paid to the linked institutional and theoretical elements of philosophy. The essay bases its argument in part on the results (...) of a survey sent to more than 500 philosophy departments across North America in the summer of 2010. (shrink)
The demand for greater public accountability is changing the nature of ex ante peer review at public science agencies worldwide. Based on a four year research project, this essay examines these changes through an analysis of the process of grant proposal review at two US public science agencies, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Weaving historical and conceptual narratives with analytical accounts, we describe the ways in which these two agencies struggle with the question (...) of incorporating considerations of societal impact into the process of peer review. We use this comparative analysis to draw two main conclusions. First, evaluation of broader societal impacts is not different in kind from evaluation of intellectual merit. Second, the scientific community may actually bolster its autonomy by taking a broader range of considerations into its peer review processes. (shrink)
This essay argues that political, economic, and cultural developments have made the twentieth century disciplinary approach to philosophy unsustainable. It (a) discusses the reasons behind this unsustainability, which also affect the academy at large, (b) describes applied philosophy as an inadequate theoretical reaction to contemporary societal pressures, and (c) proposes a dedisciplined and interstitial approach??field philosophy??as a better response to the challenges facing the twenty-first century philosophy.
Over the last 300 years science has been quite successful at revealing the nature of physical reality. In so doing it has provided an epistemological basis for scientific discovery and technological innovation. But science has been decidedly less successful at guiding political debate. How do we conceive of the science-society relation in the 21st century? How does scientific research hook onto the world in a multi-faceted, pluralistic, and global age? This essay seeks to reframe our thinking about the broader impacts (...) of science by awakening an appreciation of the inescapably political and (and as a consequence, philosophical) dimension of all knowledge, scientific or otherwise. (shrink)
Although environmental philosophy and the human exploration of space share common beginnings, scholars from either field have not given adequate attention to the possible connections between them. In this essay, we seek to spur the rapprochement and cross-fertilization of philosophy and space policy by highlighting the philosophic dimensions of space exploration, pulling together issues and authors that have had insufficient contact with one another. We do so by offering an account of three topics: planetary exploration, planetary protection and the search (...) for extraterrestrial life, and terraforming. The resulting synthesis seeks to change our thinking about earthbound environmental ethics as it considers the philosophical dimensions of space exploration, and introduces the possible benefits of a humanities-oriented approach to space policy. (shrink)
Desafíos ambientales como aquellos que enfrenta la región del Cabo de Hornos en Chile, superan la competencia de cualquier marco disciplinario. Las aproximaciones interdisciplinarias al conocimiento, combinando la pericia de varias disciplinas, como también las perspectivas transdisciplinarias de los sectores público y privado, requieren un elemento unificador que permita integrar perspectivas tan dispares. El campo de la filosofía, que tradicionalmente ha ofrecido una visión del conocimiento en su totalidad, puede cumplir nuevamente esta función si los filósofos están dispuestos a adoptar (...) una expresión des-disciplinaria de la filosofía. (shrink)
Environmental challenges such as those facing the Cape Horn region of Chile exceed the competency of any disciplinary framework. Interdisciplinary approaches to knowledge—combining the expertise of several disciplines as well as the trans-disciplinary perspectives of the public and private sectors—require a unifying element that helps integrate such disparate perspectives. The field of philosophy, which traditionally has offered a view of the whole of knowledge, can serve in this role again, if philosophers are willing to embrace a de-disciplined expression of philosophy.
In the twentieth century, philosophy (especially within the United States) embraced the notion of disciplinary expertise: philosophical research consists of working with and writing for other philosophers. Projects that involve non-philosophers earn the deprecating title of “applied” philosophy. The University of North Texas (UNT) doctoral program in philosophy exemplifies the possibility of a new model for philosophy, where graduate students are trained in academic philosophy and in how to work with scientists, engineers, and policy makers. This “field” (rather than “applied”) (...) approach emphasizes the inter- and transdisciplinary nature of the philosophical enterprise where theory and practice dialectically inform one another. UNT’s field station in philosophy at Cape Horn, Patagonia, Chile is one site for developing this ongoing experiment in the theory and practice of interdisciplinary philosophic research and education. (shrink)
A policy turn in environmental philosophy means a shift from philosophers writing philosophy essays for other philosophers to doing interdisciplinary research and working on projects with public agencies, policy makers, and the private sector. Despite some steps in this direction, a policy turn remains largely unrealized within the community of environmental philosophers. Completing this shift can contribute to better decision making, help discover new areas for philosophic investigation at the intersection of philosophy and policy, and identify new employment prospects for (...) philosophy graduates. (shrink)
The relationship between philosophy and the community has become relevant again. It has been the government itself, in the form of public science agencies, which has turned to philosophy and the humanities for help, rather than vice versa. Since 1990, US federal science agencies * agencies such as the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation * have steadily increased their support of social science and humanities research. This support is all the more striking in that it has (...) happened at a time when federal support for direct humanities research, through the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, has declined. The times demand a corollary to the field of science policy. Just as science policy seeks to offer a systematic evaluation of how science contribute to decision making, humanities policy can methodically investigate how the humanities can better contribute to policy making and how it can help science and technology take better account of societal values. (shrink)
The standard approach to environmental issues today is to turn to science, economics, or democratic populism as a means to resolve our environmental debates. Environmental philosophers, on the other hand, focus on the theoretical underpinnings of environmental issues, with possibly a brief reference to a specific case or example. A policy turn in environmental philosophy involves a third way, where philosophers begin from society’s own growing sense of the inadequacy of our conventional ways of addressing environmental problems.
This is the introduction to a special, guest-edited issue of Philosophy Today. It lays out the extent to which the philosophy of science has ignored science policy and argues that policy issues deserve attention in parallel with epistemological ones. It further reviews the historical development of science policy in the United States since World War II, identifies some recent contributions to critical reflection on basic science policy assumptions, and outlines a set of issues to be addressed by any comprehensive philosophy (...) of science policy. (shrink)
In previous work we have described the nature of geologic reasoning and the relation between the geological observer and the outcrop which is the object of their study. We now turn to further consideration of the epistemological aspects of geology that have been largely neglected by twentieth century epistemology. Our basic claim is that the experiential facts of geological field work do not fit with a philosophy of science that has evolved out of considerations on the laboratory sciences. Shifting our (...) focus from the lab to the field offers a more embodied, historical, and fallibilistic understanding of geology. (shrink)
Environmentally we seem to be both the victims and the perpetrators of a type of bait and switch: lured into the discussion by one set of intuitions, our interests become redescribed in terms that are intellectually more respectable. Our deepest concerns with the environment are converted into foreign discourses, as we strain to make the languages of science, economics, and interest group politics express our intuitions. The circumscription of environmental philosophy within environmental ethics is one manifestation of this process of (...) bait and switch. 'Corrosive Effects' critiques this process through a case study of acid mine drainage-water pollution resulting from mining activities. An analysis of acid mine drainage reveals the metaphysical and theological roots of many of our environmental problems. (shrink)
I examine the close relationship between radical environmentalism and postmodernism. I argue that there is an incoherence within most postmodernist thought, born of an unwillingness or incapacity to distinguish between claims true from an ontological or epistemological perspective and those appropriate to the exigencies of political life. The failure to distinguish which differences make a difference not only vitiates postmodernist thought, but also runs up against some of the fundamental assumptions of radical environmentalism.