International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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THURSDAY, JULY 9  /  11:00 - 12:30  /  DS-1520
Organized session / diverse format
Extending Philosophy of Biology: A Roundtable on New Methodologies and Domains, from Cartography to Cancer

Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (University of California, Santa Cruz, United States)


Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (University of California, Santa Cruz, United States)
Octavio Valadez Blanco (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico)
Karola Stotz (Macquarie University, Australia)
Paul Griffiths (Sydney University, Australia)

Philosophy of Biology continues to develop, even explode. Similarly to the universe's expansion, however, our field's growth has hardly been uniform in all directions. Thematic clusters with highly specialised debates and agendas exist as practically separate universes. While such a divide-and-conquer strategy permits real progress by teams of researchers sharing thematics and commitments, it also encourages conservative tendencies that stultify creativity. In this roundtable, we invite philosophers of biology, as well as historians, sociologists, anthropologists, and psychologists (etc.) of biology, to reflect on new kinds of domains, methodologies, and questions that might benefit the further evolution of the field.

We invite reflection on a diversity of new socially engaged questions extending philosophy of biology. We bootstrap discussion by providing two examples of how to extend philosophy of biology. (There is recent work on each of our examples, but they are not, yet, considered a proper part of philosophy of biology.) First, in "Cancer: An Extended Philosophical Approach," Valadez Blanco reflects on the domains of philosophy of biology. What would a philosophy of cancer look like? Might a philosophy of cancer move beyond epistemological and methodological matters, turning to urgent ethical, sociological, or political questions? Second, in "Maps as Vehicles of Scientific Explanation," Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther examines methodologies of philosophy of biology. Consider the map analogy, most nakedly stated as "scientific theory is a map of the world." This analogy is explored by many general philosophers of science. How might philosophy of biology benefit from this pluralistic and perspectival image of science? The two talks will then be followed by a roundtable in dialogue with each speaker and his respective themes of "New Domains" and "New Methodologies." At the end, the time remaining will be for a general roundtable.