The anatomy of discovery: a case study

by David Field [The invitation for this piece was prompted by the appearance of an article entitled “Huge electric field found in ice-cold laughing gas” in Science Alert] Is laughing gas laughing at us? How do scientists discover new phenomena, and, just as important, how do they persuade other scientists that they have discovered something … Continue reading The anatomy of discovery: a case study

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Physicists and philosophers

by Massimo Pigliucci and Dan Kaufman As part of the new direction at Scientia Salon [1] we are beginning to (occasionally) publish video conversations. This first one (and several of the forthcoming ones) features myself and Missouri State University's philosopher Daniel Kaufman. Dan and I will likely do more along the same lines, but I will … Continue reading Physicists and philosophers

Quantum mechanics and scientific realism

by Quentin Ruyant One of the main tasks of philosophy is to clarify conceptual problems and sketch the landscape of possible solutions to these problems. Of course, individual philosophers often tend to defend specific positions, but what emerges at the level of the community is, generally, a landscape of possibilities. Take, for example, the question … Continue reading Quantum mechanics and scientific realism

Reductionism, emergence, and burden of proof — part II

by Marko Vojinovic In part I of this essay I have introduced and discussed the idea of reductionism from an epistemological point of view. In what follows we will go one step further, and discuss the idea of ontological reductionism [15]. However, much of what follows will be actually devoted to rewriting the discussion of … Continue reading Reductionism, emergence, and burden of proof — part II

Reductionism, emergence, and burden of proof — part I

by Marko Vojinovic Introduction Every now and then, the question of reductionism is raised in philosophy of science: whether or not various sciences can be theoretically reduced to lower-level sciences. The answer to this question can have far-reaching consequences for our understanding of science both as a human activity and as our vehicle to gain … Continue reading Reductionism, emergence, and burden of proof — part I

APA 2014-2: Against causal reductionism

by Massimo Pigliucci Second report from this year's meeting of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association. This session, under the general heading of philosophy of science, was actually constituted of just one talk, entitled “Against causal reductionism” and delivered by Chris Weaver (Rutgers University) (the session was chaired by Michael Hicks, Rutgers University). … Continue reading APA 2014-2: Against causal reductionism

On the (dis)unity of the sciences

by Massimo Pigliucci As a practicing scientist I have always assumed that there is one thing, one type of activity, we call science. More importantly, though I am a biologist, I automatically accepted the physicists’ idea that — in principle at the least — everything boils down to physics, that it makes perfect sense to … Continue reading On the (dis)unity of the sciences