Philosophers John Locke and Anne Finch Conway don’t exactly agree on the answers to some essential philosophical questions: What is a person? How do persons remain the same over time? PhD candidate Heather Johnson investigates these questions and more by studying the similarities and differences in these thinkers’ ideas.
People sometimes think that philosophy is opposed to science. But scrutinizing scientific methodology and investigating what it takes for an idea to become scientific fact are important topics for the contemporary philosopher. And this philosophical interrogation can have an unexpected outcome—helping to advance science.
We’ve come to understand that philosophy as a discipline is the product of a few great minds. Much of the modern canon, however, overlooks those thinkers that have stitched together the dialogue. Bennett McNulty dives into this issue by presenting the canon a little differently.
While biologists and psychologists might seek to replicate an experiment, mathematicians might seek to reproduce a proof. Alan Love contends that reproducibility failures should not be taken to undermine the reliability or trustworthiness of science: “We should be confident precisely because scientists sometimes get it wrong, since they know how to process their errors and take advantage of situations when they fail.”
Over the course of two years, Samuel Fletcher has been exploring the philosophical relevance and implications of the replication crisis, the inability of researchers, particularly in fields such as cancer biology and social psychology, to replicate or reproduce certain published findings in subsequent studies.
Academics have said that all philosophy created in the last 200 years is a response to Immanuel Kant. The influence of his work, however, has spread much further than the realm of philosophy. Today, chemists and politicians alike grapple with the ideas of this poor Prussian boy and how his century-old writings are still shaping modern thought.
Max Drescow, graduate student in the philosophy department, is the runner-up for the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Technology's History and Philosophy of Science essay contest.
Often in language we are faced with cases of indeterminacy: how many miles per hour is “fast”? How many feet, from head to toe, is “tall”? How much money does it take to be “wealthy”? Professor David Taylor asserts that there’s something philosophically significant going on here, and it's about much more than just our language.
Scientific fields such as chemistry, psychology, anthropology, and biology are deeply interwoven in countless complex ways. Philosophy professor Bennett McNulty looks at these disciplines through the lens of Immanuel Kant’s writings to better understand how these “inexact sciences” relate to each other and to our investigation of the empirical world.
Philosophy Professor Sarah Holtman seeks to answer moral questions on Kant’s theory of justice. “I’m not a historian,” she remarks, “but rather a moral and political philosopher, approaching Kant’s writings from that angle.”
Philosophy Professor Jessica Gordon-Roth analyzes the work of 17th-century philosopher Anne Finch Conway, overlooked in part because of her gender. How does her perspective differ from other major thinkers of the time period, like Hobbes and Descartes?
Scientific research is commonly thought to be all about the numbers: concrete evidence, data, and carefully drawn conclusions. However, Max Dresow’s background in both biological science and philosophy allows him to see the benefit of philosophy’s wider lens when dealing with scientific practices.
“It’s like playing tennis without a net. You always win,” says statistics professor Charles Geyer about conducting unethical research. Discover how Geyer and other professors at the University of Minnesota mobilize the open science movement to inspire appropriate research practices.
Philosopher Immanuel Kant’s work delves deep into the concept of freedom in both his moral and political philosophies—so what does a Kant scholar do when these treatments of freedom don’t quite seem to line up? Professor Matthias Rothe explains how inconsistencies in Kant’s work must be understood in a broader historical, social, and political context.
A new philosophy class starting this spring will examine conceptual issues in medicine, delving deeper into how medical professionals know what they know. Alan Love, professor of philosophy who will be teaching the class, says the class will cover "a dimension of medicine … that is very relevant for all members of society."
At the University of Minnesota, philosophy also has a long history. Philosophy was part of the “preparatory department” when the University was first chartered in 1851, and the Department of Philosophy was one of the first departments that formed the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences when it was established in 1869.