On the (dis)unity of the sciences

Scientia Salon

universeby 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 go after a “theory of everything.”

Then I read John Dupré’s The Disorder of Things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science [1], and that got me to pause and think (which, of course, is the hallmark of a good book, regardless if one rejects that book’s conclusions).

I found John’s book compelling not just because of his refreshing, and admittedly consciously iconoclastic tone, but also because a great deal of it is devoted to subject matters, like population genetics, that I actually know a lot about, and am therefore in a good position to…

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7 Responses to On the (dis)unity of the sciences

  1. I don’t know that everything boils down to physics. If the original force of life is not know than how can this statement come from a place of knowledge? I agree about the book reading bit.

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    • Thanks for stopping by!

      I think you’re right that it can’t be said from a place of knowledge. It’s a philosophical position that hasn’t been empirically validated. But looking at what we do have evidence for (lot’s of physical stuff, none for anything else), it could be argued that it’s a reasonable one.

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  2. Interesting article, a propos of what we talked about earlier on instrumentalism. I was a bit thrown by the term “phenomenology” in this realm. I suppose it’s like all terms that get moved about in different areas and I wasn’t quite sure how they were using it.

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