Scientific Crossbreeding

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesisResearch

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Abstract

This thesis presents an alternative approach to the analysis of interdisciplinarity. One of the basic reasons for developing an alternative method for evaluation of interdisciplinary activities is that epistemic issues are insufficiently dealt with in the existing literature on the topic. To develop a more adequate way of capturing what is at stake in interdisciplinarity, I suggest drawing inspiration from the contemporary philosophical literature on scientific representation. The development of a representation based approach to the analysis of interdisciplinarity, and the discussion of the consequences of representing interdisciplinarity in this way, are the two main contributions offered by this thesis.
The treatment of these topics proceed in the following steps:
In chapter 1, I introduce the general enterprise and define central concepts.
In chapter 2, I provide an in-depth analysis of the concept of “scientific
discipline” and disciplinary difference. This chapter provides reasons to assume that conventional scientific taxonomies do not provide a good basis for analysing epistemic aspects of interdisciplinary science. On this background it is argued that the concept of “approaches” is a more fruitful alternative.
In Chapter 3, I provide a number of examples of interdisciplinary science and go through some relevant aspects of the present state of the discipline of Interdisciplinarity Studies. I provide my best account of why interdisciplinarity is such a topical subject in academia today, and why I consider the existing literature on the topic to be lacking in certain central respects.
In chapter 4, I address the question of whether philosophy is relevant to the study of interdisciplinarity at all. My answer is »Yes!« It is worth discussing, however, since there are widely accepted arguments against the relevance of philosophy to understanding scientific activities (in general).
In chapter 5 and onwards I argue in favour of construing interdisciplinarity and interdisciplinary activities in light of the philosophy of scientific represen- tation. I go through discussions of the nature of modelling and representation. I further introduce Ronald Giere’s framework for analysing representational activities and discuss the vices and virtues of this take on scientific representation.
In chapter 6, issues related to scientific pluralism are discussed. This includes Giere’s perspectivism and his one-world-(working-)hypothesis. Primitively put, scientific pluralism denotes the conviction that there are numerous ways to perform scientific activities and, importantly, these are not readily interchangeable between contexts. This leads to a discussion of a number of pitfalls related to transferring tools and other theoretical elements between scientific settings.
In chapter 7 the Giere Duplex is introduced as a framework for analysing interdisciplinary integration. Analysis based on the Giere Duplex leads to a fuller understanding of the notions of “approach” and “distance”. It also leads
to some recommendations that run directly counter to established assumptions about interdisciplinarity.
In chapter 8, the developed framework is applied in a case study of a specific interdisciplinary project within schizophrenia research. I go through the background of the project, as well as the contemporary status of schizophrenia research, psychiatry, and psychopathology. The result of applying the method for assessment developed in this thesis is quite interesting, I believe.
Finally, in chapter 9, I sum up the entire thesis and discuss the consequences of viewing interdisciplinarity in the suggested way. I briefly remark on what might have been better as well as questions which would be good to address in future research.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherUniversity of Southern Denmark
Number of pages245
Publication statusPublished - 14 Sep 2016

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