Anti-theory in the Philosophy of Science and Ethics

July 4, 2023 - July 6, 2023
Philosophy Department, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev


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Open University (UK)
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
University of Toronto, St. George Campus
Aarhus University


Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

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During the 1970s and 80s two movements emerged—one in the philosophy of science and the other in ethics—that challenged the prevailing conception of philosophical theorizing in their respective fields. In PoS, Paul Feyerabend (1970, 1975) criticized attempts to identify a scientific method and to formulate a theory of scientific rationality. Scientists, he claimed, do not—and should not—follow strict rules of a fixed method. In ethics, a diverse group of prominent philosophers questioned the purpose and value of moral theorizing. They insisted that excellent moral behavior does not consist in following strict moral principles and that organizing our lives on dictates of moral theory is morally pernicious (MacIntyre 1981; Williams 1985; Baier 1985; Taylor 1989).

Despite the undeniable differences between science and ethics, there is, nevertheless, a deep and important similarity between the two anti-theory movements—they both reject the presumption that a chief task of their field is to formulate strict principles for practical guidance. Interestingly, this principal similarity has been overlooked and the debates in the philosophy of science and in ethics have developed independently one from the other.   The aim of the workshop is to bring together scholars from philosophy of science and ethics to provide a comparative assessment of anti-theory movements in the philosophy of science and in ethics and to explore ways in which insights gleaned from one subfield can shed light on the other.   

Confirmed Speakers: Sophie-Grace Chappell (Open University, UK), K. Brad Wray (Aarhus University, Denmark), Nora Hämäläinen (University of Helsinki), Jamie Shaw (Leibniz Universität Hannover), Shlomit Wygoda Cohen (Polonsky Fellow, Van Leer Institute)

The workshop is organized by Dr. Uri D. Leibowitz ([email protected]) and Dr. Klodian Coko ([email protected]) from the Philosophy Department at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in conjunction with a research project funded by the Israeli Science Foundation (ISF 1943/20).    

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June 15, 2023, 9:00am IST

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