Book in Progress: Science and Moral Imagination
The papers on this page are works in progress, so please do not cite them without permission. I post them here primarily because I am eager for feedback on my thoughts as they develop. They are very much in development.
Papers in Progress
According to the ideal of value-free science, non-epistemic values have no role to play in science proper. Even among those who deny that science is value-free, many hold that epistemic values (e.g., empirical adequacy, predictive accuracy, simplicity) must take priority over non-epistemic values (e.g., equality, health, safety) when it comes to the inferential processes in science. I argue that we should reject any strong version of this epistemic priority thesis. Rejecting the priority of epistemic values does not, however, lead us recklessly into biased or wishful thinking. I show that rejecting epistemic priority can lead us towards a more pragmatic and socially responsible image of science.
For John Dewey and Jean Lave, the concept “situation” figures prominently in their theories of cognition. In comparing Lave’s work on situated learning and cognition with John Dewey’s situational theory of thinking and inquiry and his anti-Cartesian theory of mind, I show that there is a fruitful convergence and complementarity between these two major theorists of mind, culture, and activity. Their work shows that “situation” remains an important way of thinking about cognition in ecological and cultural context.
The main goal of this paper is to provide a satisfactory interpretation of John Dewey’s concept of “situation,” which plays a central role in his theory of inquiry and thus his philosophy of science. The secondary goal is to show the consequences of Dewey’s situationism for his theory of science. The paper needs some work, and perhaps to go in a somewhat different direction, focusing more on “situation” as a contested idea in Dewey scholarship.
In 1909, the 50th anniversary of both the publication of Origin of the Species and his own birth, John Dewey published “The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy.” This optimistic essay saw Darwin’s advance not only as one of empirical or theoretical biology, but a logical and conceptual revolution that would shake every corner of philosophy. Dewey tells us less about the influence that Darwin exerted over philosophy over the past 50 years and instead prophesied the influence it would (or should) take in the future. I will discuss this landmark paper and the key lessons Dewey draws from Darwinism for philosophy, and give a preliminary assessment of how well we’ve done so far. (Dewey would be largely disappointed.)
“Connecting Inquiry and Values in Science Education: An Approach based on John Dewey’s Perspective” (with Eun Ah Lee)
“State of the Field: Science, Values, and Politics.”
“John Dewey is First and Foremost a Philosopher of Science”
“John Dewey’s Philosophy of Science”
“Philosophical Problems of Diet and Nutrition: Science, Values, and Authority” (with Tamara Dabney, Ananya Das, and Shivani Sharma)
In this paper, we raise several problems for contemporary dietary and nutritional science from a philosophical perspective. Food generally, and diet and nutrition in particular, have received scant philosophical attention; the bulk of that attention has been directed towards ethical arguments for and against eating meat. We come at this in a very different direction, from concerns that arise from philosophy of science. Namely, we are concerned about epistemological problems with diet and nutrition science itself, problems that arise in the way that values guide (or fail to properly guide) diet and nutrition science as well as evidence-based practice related to diet and nutrition, and the problematic forms that epistemic and cultural authority take in the area of diet and nutrition, both in terms of the authority of mainstream science and its policy recommendations, as well as the outsized role that ersatz scientific authorities, such as MDs peddling radical diets and seemingly authoritative medical organizations with complicated agendas, play in the public and policy recommendations about diet and nutrition.