Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Ideas: How to Think About Science: Episode 4 - Ian Hacking & Andrew Pickering on Science as Experimental Philosophy

How to Think About Science: Episode 4 - Ian Hacking & Andrew Pickering
Ideas (CBC)

Philosophers of science tended, until quite recently, to treat science as a mainly theoretical activity. Experiment - science's actual, often messy encounter with the world - was viewed as something secondary, a mere hand-servant to theory. Popular understanding followed suit. Theories were what counted: one spoke of the theory of evolution, the theory of relativity, the Copernican theory and so on. It was as thinkers and seers that the great scientists were lionized and glorified. But this attitude has recently begun to change. A new generation of historians and philosophers have made the practical, inventive side of science their focus. They've pointed out that science doesn't just think about the world, it makes the world and then remakes it. Science, for them, really is what the thinkers of the 17th century first called it: experimental philosophy. In this episode we hear from two of the scholars who've been influential in advancing this changed view: first Ian Hacking, widely regarded as Canada's pre-eminent philosopher of science, and later in the hour Andrew Pickering, author of The Mangle of Practice.

To Listen to the Episode

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