Research Goals #
What exactly do we do here? It’s a broad research group, with people interested in a wide variety of different kinds of research projects. Broadly, though, we’re united by the following:
- A focus on the philosophy and history of science and technology. All of our lab members are working on understanding the past and present of science and technology – with an emphasis on the life sciences. Contemporary life science engages a host of conceptual, philosophical, and ethical questions, all of which, to be fully understood, need to be contextualized within their history. That’s what motivates us to get out of bed in the morning.
- An interdisciplinary approach to understanding. Our group is committed to approaching these questions using tools from a variety of disciplines. A single project might involve analysis in the contemporary metaphysics of science or philosophy of biology, connections to the history of evolutionary theory, an analysis from the digital humanities, and worries about its ethical upshot in contemporary society.
- A collaborative outlook. We won’t be able to succeed without involving lots and lots of different people, from philosophers, to historians, digital humanists, and biologists. Most of our projects are multi-author, and many are multi-disciplinary or multi-institutional.
Why do we do what we do? Of course, each of us has our own motivation. But we might generalize in the following way. Contemporary society gives real pride of place to the sciences and scientific knowledge. The insights of “science” are given particular weight in media and popular culture. This goes double for the life sciences, which are taken to tell us not just how the natural world works, but to tell us about who we are. If we are to take these pronouncements seriously, we have to consider philosophical reflection about this knowledge. How is it produced? What concepts does it employ? How are its theories structured, and how do they relate to the natural world? How did they come to be structured in that way? What is their impact on society?
History of the Lab #
Our group started out at Louisiana State University in the United States, in the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, between 2014 and 2018. In 2018, we moved to the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium, housed in the Institut supérieur de philosophie and the Centre de philosophie des sciences et sociétés.