Vanessa Seifert


Why do philosophers disagree on how the sciences relate? A meta-philosophical analysis


How the natural sciences relate and what these relations tell us about the world have been examined in philosophy for a long time. Yet despite the enormous advances in the natural sciences and the growing consensus among scientists about which theories are reliable, philosophers starkly disagree on how the sciences relate to each other. I identify the main reasons for this disagreement and argue that philosophers will never agree on how the sciences relate, regardless of how advanced these sciences may be. I support this by invoking van Fraassen’s idea of stances. Specifically, I show that positions on inter-theory relations are motivated by philosophers’ unique stances towards methodological, normative and existential considerations. As such, disagreements among positions don't admit to adjudication, thus explaining why they persist. I then examine whether philosophical disagreement is something to be worried about and argue that there are in principle and pragmatic reasons that prompt such a worry. To overcome this, I argue that- even though there will never be consensus on this issue- there are certain features about which philosophers can and should reach agreement.

Date / Time / Place

June 22nd / 10:10 / Aula Magna