Metascientific Views: Challenge and Opportunity for Philosophy of Biology in Practice

Emanuele Serrelli

Summary: 1. Introduction. 2. Many Methods for Getting to Know a Scientific Community. 3. Philosophy. 4. Conclusion.

Abstract: In this paper I take evolutionary biology as an example to reflect on the role of philosophy and on the transformations that philosophy is constantly stimulated to do in its own approach when dealing with science. I consider that some intellectual movements within evolutionary biology (more specifically, the various calls for ‘synthesis’) express metascientific views, i.e., claims about ‘what it is to do research’ in evolutionary biology at different times. In the construction of metascientific views I see a fundamental role to be played by philosophy, and, at the same time, a need to complement the philosophical methods with many more methods coming from other sciences. What leads philosophy out of itself is its own attention to scientific practice. My humble methodological suggestions are, at this stage, only meant to help us imagine metascientific views that are built with a more scientific, interdisciplinary approach, in order to attenuate partiality, subjectivity and impressionism in describing the scientific community. And yet, we should not be naïve and imbued with the myth of ‘data-driven’ research, especially in this field: other complex issues about metascientific views call for a serious, constant philosophical reflection on scientific practice.

Keywords: Philosophy of science in practice, Philosophy of biology, Evolutionary synthesis, Interdisciplinarity.