Anti-theory in the Philosophy of Science and Ethics - Research Workshop of the Israel Science Foundation

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

Building 74, Room 301

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  • Israel Science Foundation


Rutgers - New Brunswick
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
Zefat Academic College
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. 



10:15 - 11:30 Duncan J. Richter - Ethical Description as a Form of Anti-theory

                        Comments by Shlomo Cohen

11:45 - 13:00 Shlomit Wygoda Cohen - That's Just the Way It Is:

                          The Non-Explanatory Role of Principles

                         Comments by David Kovacs

14:00 - 15:15 Erich Linder -  Between Practice and Theory in Animal Ethics

                         Comments by Reshef Agam-Segal

15:30 - 16:45 Uri Leibowitz - Historicist (Anti) Theories of Practical Wisdom

                         Comments by Yair Levy

17:00 - 18:15 Jamie Shaw - Feyerabend's Argument for Methodological                                                    Anarchism

                         Comments by Rea Golan


10:00 - 11:15 K. Brad Wray - Osiander and Instrumentalism

                        Comments by Ori Belkind

11:30 - 12:45 Boaz Miller - Algorithmically Manufactured Scientific Consensus

                        Comments by Ori Beck

14:00 - 15:15 David Kaspar - Constructive Anti-Theory

                        Comments by Daniel Moor

15:30 - 16:45 Nora Hämäläinen - Moral Philosophy Is Not What it Used to Be:                                         Reflections on Three Decades of (Anti) Theory

                        Comments by Lotem Rotbain-Sher

17:00 - 18:45 Isaac (Yanni) Nevo - Anti-Theory in Philosophy - A Case for                                               Pragmatism

                        Comments by Sam Lebens


9:00 - 10:15  Michiel Meijer - Overcoming Metaethics: Science, Objectivity, and                                       Interpretation in Ethics 

                        Comments by Oded Naaman

10:20 - 11:35 Charles Djordjevic - The Danger of 'Best Practices': Against                                               Theory in Biomedicine

                        Comments by Mark Fedyk and Tia Kadiu

11:45 - 13:00 Klodian Coko - Against Method and Theory in Philosophy                                                  of Science and Ethics

                        Comments by Peeter Muursepp

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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