The Value of Philosophy in Interdisciplinary Research
The scientific enterprise, currently organised in a variety of more or less independent disciplines, faces increasing calls to promote interdisciplinarity. It is often argued that scientific problems and societal challenges are more than ever multi-faceted, and too complex to be tackled from one single discipline alone. Reductionism towards this or that disciplinary perspective fails to do them justice, and limits science’s striking power. This is exemplified by the ongoing environmental crisis. Understanding and tackling environmental problems requires the integration of, among other, biological, geological, sociological, economic and legal perspectives. Or by the Sars-Cov-2 pandemic, which has proven to be a medical, political and economic challenge at the same time.
Arguably, this reflection on interdisciplinarity raises an opportunity to rethink the place of philosophy in the architecture of the sciences. It raises some evident questions: if cooperation between multiple disciplines is required, does this include philosophy or not? What can philosophy offer to the other sciences? And do traditional philosophical problems then also require interdisciplinary solutions? Or is philosophy inevitably interdisciplinary? Moreover, it could be argued that philosophy has a role to play in bridging between scientific disciplines, by providing the necessary conceptual tools and services needed for scientific unification. Perhaps the aspiration of philosophy to be a foundation for the sciences is not entirely dead.
We welcome speakers to answer these questions, in general terms or through discussion of particular problems related to philosophy and interdisciplinary science. We particularly invite speakers that are themselves active in interdisciplinary cooperation between philosophy and other sciences.
We are very grateful to receive full financial support from the Philosophy faculty of the KU Leuven and Fund Joseph Van de Wiele.
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