Communicating with scientific graphics: a descriptive inquiry into non-ideal normativity


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Ben Sheredos
University of California, San Diego
Abstract
Scientists’ graphical practices have recently become a target of inquiry in the philosophy of science, and in the cognitive sciences. Here I supplement our understanding of graphical practices via a case study of how researchers crafted the graphics for scientific publication in the field of circadian biology. The case highlights social aspects of graphical production which have gone understudied e especially concerning the negotiation of publication. I argue that it also supports a challenge to the claim that empirically-informed “cognitive design principles” offer an apt understanding of the norms of success which govern good scientific graphic design to communicate data and hypotheses to other experts. In this respect, the case-study also illustrates how “descriptive” studies of scientific practice can connect with normative issues in philosophy of science, thereby addressing a central concern in recent discussions of practice-oriented philosophy of science.
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2017.03.009
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Sketching Biological Phenomena and Mechanisms.Sheredos Benjamin & Bechtel William - 2017 - Topics in Cognitive Science 9 (4):970-985.

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