It has become apparent to many that the traditional debate between scientific realists and anti-realists has come to a stalemate. Neither view can reasonably claim to be the most rational philosophy of science, exclusively capable of making sense of all scientific activities. On one prominent analysis of the situation, whether we accept a realist or an anti-realist account of science actually seems to depend on which values we antecedently accept, rather than our commitment to “rationality” per se. Accordingly, several philosophers have attempted to argue in favour of one or the other view by showing that one set of values is exclusively best, for anyone and everyone, and that the downstream choice of the philosophy of science which best serves those values is therefore best, for anyone and everyone. These efforts, however, seem to have failed, and the stalemate remains. In response, I suggest that philosophers of science should suspend the effort to determine which philosophy of science is best for everyone, and instead begin investigating which philosophy of science is best for specific (groups of) people, with specific values, in specific contexts. My dissertation outlines the details of this “pragmatic, existentialist” approach to the scientific realism debate, and illustrates some specific ways that this might be carried out—e.g. by historical study of the motivational roles that philosophical views have played in scientific practice, or by conceptual analysis of the kinds of science policy making that different philosophical commitments can underwrite—with an eye towards future research.
(2008) A New Argument for Scientific Realism, MA Thesis, University of Victoria
(2009) “Book Review: Bas van Fraassen’s Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective” in Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
(forthcoming) “Practical Inadequacy: Bas van Fraassen’s Failures of Systematicity” in Proceedings of the Fifth Cave Hill Philosophy Symposium (CHiPS V)
(2011) “Editor’s Introduction: Focussed Discussion on Science and Public Controversy,” Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
(2013) “Book Review: Hans Radder’s The Commodification of Academic Research: Science and the modern University” in Metascience