Jack Ritchie, UCT Department of Philosophy, will present the Department of Physics Colloquium with a talk entitled, "Scientific methods, the social structure of the sciences and the role of diversity">
A traditional task in philosophy of science is to try to articulate the so-called scientific method. An account of the scientific method is supposed to have a descriptive and prescriptive component. The method ought to describe what scientists do and explain why results achieved following this method ought to be trusted. Traditional accounts of method have focussed on fairly abstract relations between theories and evidence. More recent work in philosophy of science has tried to describe the important role social structures play in the production of scientific knowledge. This talk will present some of that work drawing on some cases studies and formal models of how groups of scientists interact. I’ll pay special attention to the role that various forms of diversity play or might play in a well-functioning scientific community – including promoting a diversity of ideas and methods, a diversity of funding mechanisms, and the diversity of members of the scientific community themselves.