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Philosophy and the Front Line of Science

Tuomas K. Pernu
The Quarterly Review of Biology
Vol. 83, No. 1 (March 2008), pp. 29-36
DOI: 10.1086/529560
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/529560
Page Count: 8
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Philosophy and the Front Line of Science
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Abstract

ABSTRACT According to one traditional view, empirical science is necessarily preceded by philosophical analysis. Yet the relevance of philosophy is often doubted by those engaged in empirical sciences. I argue that these doubts can be substantiated by two theoretical problems that the traditional conception of philosophy is bound to face. First, there is a strong normative etiology to philosophical problems, theories, and notions that is difficult to reconcile with descriptive empirical study. Second, conceptual analysis (a role that is typically assigned to philosophy) seems to lose its object of study if it is granted that terms do not have purely conceptual meanings detached from their actual use in empirical sciences. These problems are particularly acute to the current naturalistic philosophy of science. I suggest a more concrete integration of philosophy and the sciences as a possible way of making philosophy of science have more impact.

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