Disagreement in the Natural Sciences: Truth, History, and Conceptual Change (2014-16)

The goal of this pilot project is to address the nature of peer disagreement in the natural sciences. While disagreement has been at the center of an important literature in contemporary epistemology, not much attention has so far been spent on the nature of peer disagreement in the natural sciences. Why do scientists, who have access to the same resources and experimental evidence, may nonetheless disagree about the interpretation of their scientific findings? Disagreement is key to understanding the existence of rival research programs at any given time in science, as it is pivotal to understanding the emergence of research traditions in the history of science. Moreover, disagreement raises pressing questions for the perennial philosophical debate about realism and antirealism in science. Can realism be upheld in the light of scientific disagreement? Is there a truth at the end of the inquiry, whereby disagreement is only temporary and undesirable ‘background noise’? Or should we rethink realism itself to make room for a pluralistic stance? To answer these questions we are planning an exploratory workshop for the late spring 2014, with an interdisciplinary panel of specialists in epistemology, history of science, and philosophy of science.

Project Events:
A workshop was held in 2014. 


Project Outcome:
This pilot project led to a successful ERC Consolidator Grant. See the new Eidyn project, Perpectival Realism: Science, Knowledge, and Truth From a Human Vantage Point.


Project team: 

Project Leader: Dr Michela Massimi


Funded by Eidyn/PPLS