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IAS-Research Talk by Alberto Monterde Fuertes: The Methodology and Normativity of Engaged and Relevant Philosophy of Science

Thursday March 14 at 16:00 in the Sala de Juntas. The talk will be hybrid. If you want to participate, please contact


Philosophers of science have grown increasingly worried about the field’s lost opportunities to make an impact in science and society. Many believe that the field’s institutionalization in the mid-twentieth century sidelined social concerns as irrelevant to philosophical theorization about science. This led to a focus on internal debates over philosophical notions within science. To address this, many have advocated for a philosophy of science that is engaged and relevant to both science and society. This is a pressing issue, as the field’s funding from public governments may depend on its ability to make an impact. However, developing an engaged and relevant philosophy of science should force philosophers to ask two interrelated questions. Firstly, what is the methodology of those philosophical projects? In other words, how should they be done? Lastly, what differentiates engaged and relevant philosophy of science projects from other approaches to philosophy of science?

In this seminar, I will address the relationship between both questions. I will first focus on providing an answer to the second question by analyzing engaged and relevant philosophy of science projects and theories via the notion of normativity. The notion of normativity is present in philosophy of science theories when gathering evidence, analyzing/interpreting, and making evaluations/prescriptions about elements of science. Marie Kaiser has recently argued that ‘philosophy of science in practice’ approaches, which rely on scientific evidence for philosophical theorizing, differ from ‘ex-cathedra’ philosophy of science, which proceeds without considering scientific evidence. The differences are made clear by shifts in their normativity about gathering evidence and making evaluative/prescriptive statements about science. I will show that engaged and relevant projects in philosophy of science also present changes in their normativity regarding similar topics. Those changes in normativity help to conform a general methodology for those kinds of projects. Furthermore, I will consider how these normative shifts, which shape the overall methodology of philosophy of science, are influenced by meta-normative considerations regarding the role of philosophy and of the philosophers.

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