30/09/2021 – Thomas Pradeu & Maël Lemoine: Philosophy in Science: Can Philosophers of Science Permeate through Science and Produce Scientific Knowledge?


Most philosophers of science do philosophy ‘on’ science. By contrast, others do philosophy ‘in’ science (‘PinS’), that is, they use philosophical tools to address scientific problems and to provide scientifically useful proposals. Here, we consider the evidence in favour of a trend of this nature. We proceed in two stages. First, we identify relevant authors and articles empirically with bibliometric tools, given that PinS would be likely to infiltrate science and thus to be published in scientific journals (‘intervention’), cited in scientific journals (‘visibility’) and sometimes recognized as a scientific result by scientists (‘contribution’). We show that many central figures in philosophy of science have been involved in PinS, and that some philosophers have even ‘specialized’ in this practice. Second, we propose a conceptual definition of PinS as a process involving three conditions (raising a scientific problem, using philosophical tools to address it, and making a scientific proposal), and we ask whether the articles identified at the first stage fulfil all these conditions. We show that PinS is a distinctive, quantitatively substantial trend within philosophy of science, demonstrating the existence of a methodological continuity from science to philosophy of science.

Biographical information:

Thomas Pradeu is a Senior Investigator in Philosophy of Science at CNRS & the University of Bordeaux France, founder and leader of the “Conceptual Biology and Medicine” team, and the coordinator of the “Philosophy in Biology and Medicine” international network (PhilInBioMed). From 2008 to 2014, he was an Associate Professor in Philosophy at Paris-Sorbonne University. Starting from 2014, he became an “embedded philosopher” in the Bordeaux immunology lab (“ImmunoConcept”). From 2015 to 2020, he was the PI of an ERC Starting Grant project on the microbiome and biological individuality. His research, published equally in science and philosophy of science journals, deals with the conceptual and methodological dimensions of current immunology, especially immunity-cancer interactions and immunity-microbiome interactions.

Maël Lemoine is a professor of philosophy of medical sciences at the University of Bordeaux. After having starting to practice embedded philosophy in a neuroscience lab in Tours in 2011, he joined the “conceptual biology and medicine” team at ImmunoConcept and is now co-leading it. His research is now mostly dealing with the link between the process of aging and the occurence of age-related diseases. He is a PI of the PHIBIOMED project that funds the PhilInBioMed network and a co-PI of a research project on metabolic mechanisms in squamous cell cancers. 

Reading material:

The seminar is aimed at being followed without preparation. The following documents are only provided for the participants who desire to delve deeper into the subject:

External Links:

Meeting information:

  • Thursday the 30th of September, at 15:00 CEST, at this Zoom link

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