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Experimental Philosophy of Science and Philosophical Differences across the Sciences

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 January 2022


This article contributes to the underdeveloped field of experimental philosophy of science. We examine variability in the philosophical views of scientists. Using data from Toolbox Dialogue Initiative, we analyze scientists’ responses to prompts on philosophical issues (methodology, confirmation, values, reality, reductionism, and motivation for scientific research) to assess variance in the philosophical views of physical scientists, life scientists, and social and behavioral scientists. We find six prompts about which differences arose, with several more that look promising for future research. We then evaluate the difference between the natural and social sciences and the challenge of interdisciplinary integration across scientific branches.

Copyright © The Philosophy of Science Association

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To contact the authors, please write to: Brian Robinson, Texas A&M University–Kingsville, Department of History, Political Science, and Philosophy, 700 University Blvd., MSC 165, Kingsville, TX 78363; e-mail: Chad Gonnerman, University of Southern Indiana, Department of Philosophy, 8600 University Blvd., Evansville, IN 47712. Michael O’Rourke, Michigan State University, Department of Philosophy, 368 Farm Lane, Room 503, East Lansing, MI 48824.

We would like to thank Stephen Crowley and Daniel Steel for discussion of the issues addressed in this article, as well as audiences at the 2015 Buffalo Experimental Philosophy Conference, the 2015 Science of Team Science Conference, and the 2016 SRPoiSE/Values in Medicine, Science and Technology Conference. The work reported in this article was supported by the National Science Foundation under grant SES-0823058. O’Rourke’s work on this project was supported by the US Department of Agriculture National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Hatch project MICL02261.


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