Disciplinary boundaries

Adventures in Ethics and Science

Category archives for Disciplinary boundaries

One of the most interesting sessions at the NSF IGERT 2010 Project Meeting was a panel of men and women who participated in the IGERT program as students and are now working in a variety of different careers. The point of the panel was to hear about the ways that they felt their experiences as…

About three weeks ago, I was in Washington, D.C. for the NSF IGERT 2010 Project Meeting. I was invited to speak on a panel on Digital Science (with co-panelists Chris Impey, Moshe Pritzker, and Jean-Claude Bradley, who blogged about it), and later in the meeting I helped to facilitate some discussions of ethics case studies.…

Dismal, yes, but is it science?

As I was driving home from work today, I was listening to Marketplace on public radio. In the middle of a story, reported by Nancy Marshall Genzer, about opponents of health care reform, there was an interesting comment that bears on the nature of economics as a scientific discipline. From the transcript of the story:…

Against over-specialization.

In the 12 September, 2008 issue of Science, there is a brief article titled “Do We Need ‘Synthetic Bioethics’?” [1]. The authors, Hastings Center ethicists Erik Parens, Josephine Johnston, and Jacob Moses, answer: no.

Reading the comments on my post and Chad’s post about the different societal attitudes towards humanities and arts and math and science (especially in terms of what “basic” knowledge a well-educated person ought to have), I get the feeling that some interesting assumptions are at play. Since I don’t want to put words in anyone’s…

Over at Philosopher’s Playground, Steve Gimbel asks why the philosophy of chemistry is such a recent discipline given how long there has been serious activity in the philosophy of biology and the philosophy of physics. He floats a few possible answers — as it happens, the same options those of us who actually do philosophy…

Via Crooked Timber, I see that philosopher Simon Blackburn would like to dispel some myths. (He does this in the inaugural article of a Times Higher Education series “in which academics range beyond their area of expertise”.) Of the ten myths Blackburn identifies for busting, the one that caught my attention was “the myth of…

Who has the biggest snakepit?

As I was weighing in on aetosaurs and scientist on scientist nastiness, one of the people I was talking to raised the question of whether careerist theft and backstabbing of professional colleagues was especially bad in paleontology. (Meanwhile, a commenter expressed surprise that it wasn’t just biomedical researchers who felt driven to cheat.) I don’t…

A few thoughs on conferences.

It’s been pretty quiet here. Not only have I been engrossed in preparations for the Spring semester (classes start today), but I also went to the 2008 NC Science Blogging Conference. So it seems like a good time to ruminate a bit on how conferences fit into the patterns of (my) academic life.

Following up on the earlier discussion here and at Chad’s about the “fundamental difference” between chemistry and physics, I wanted to have a look at a historical moment that might provide some insight into the mood along the border between the two fields. It strikes me that the boundaries between chemistry and physics, as between…