Kitcher’s view on science & the humanities

Posted in Uncategorized by Huenemann on May 14, 2012

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the topic – most of it myopic, in my estimation – but Philip Kitcher, in an essay in the New Republic, contributes a perspective that is informed, clear, and judicious. As usual. Excerpt, from the conclusion:

We are finite beings, and so our investigations have to be selective, and the broadest frameworks of today’s science reflect the selections of the past. What we discover depends on the questions taken to be significant, and the selection of those questions, as well as the decision of which factors to set aside in seeking answers to them, presupposes judgments about what is valuable. Those are not only, or mainly, scientific judgments. In their turn, new discoveries modify the landscape in which further investigations will take place, and because what we learn affects how evidence is assessed, discovery shapes the evolution of our standards of evidence. Judgments of value thus pervade the environment in which scientific work is done. If they are made, as they should be, in light of the broadest and deepest reflections on human life and its possibilities, then good science depends on contributions from the humanities and the arts. Perhaps there is even a place for philosophy.


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