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Science and the Quest for Meaning
In this deeply thoughtful exploration, Alfred Tauber, a practicing scientist and highly regarded philosopher, eloquently traces the history of the philosophy of science, seeking in the end to place science within the humanistic context from which it originated. Avoiding the dogmatism that has defined both extremes in the recent “Science Wars” and presenting a conception of reason that lifts the discussion out of the interminable debates about objectivity and neutrality, Tauber offers a way of understanding science as an evolving relationship between facts and the values that govern their discovery and applications. This timely philosophy of science presents a centrist but highly consequently view, wherein “truth” and “objectivity” can function as working ideals and serve as pragmatic tools within the sociological context in which they reside. For if the humanization of science is to reach completion, it must reveal not only the meaning it receives from its social and cultural settings but also that which it lends to them.
Packed with well-chosen case studies, Science and the Quest for Meaning is a trust-worthy and engaging introduction to the history of, and the current debate surrounding, the philosophy of science.
Introduction: Concerning Scientific Reason
1. What is Science?
2. Nineteenth-century Positivism
3. The Fall of Positivism
4. The Science Wars
5. Science in its Socio-Political Contexts
Conclusion: The Challenge of Coherence
“Tauber should be lauded for 'explicating philosophies of science' underlying contemporary science studies and for his effort to signpost future directions. If one is interested in a dissenting humanistic voice about science amid all non-humanistic tendencies in our time, Tauber’s Science and the Quest for Meaning is well worth reading.”
—Jouni-Matti Kuukkanen, University of Hull, The International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science (3:1, Spring 2013)
"Having one foot planted firmly on each side of what many consider an unbridgeable chasm, Tauber ponders the relationship between the sciences and the humanities."
—SciTech Book News, Dec. 2009
“Deeply thoughtful and stylishly written, this is one of the most perceptive contributions to this debate in recent years.”
—Janet Browne, Aramont Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
“An admirable and liberating rethinking. Who would have expected a book that begins with positivism to end with Thoreau?”
—Alasdair MacIntyre, Research Professor, University of Notre Dame
Alfred I. Tauber is Professor of Philosophy and Zoltan Kohn Professor of Medicine and Director of the Center for Philosophy and History of Science, Boston University. The recipient of the 2008 Medal for Science awarded by the University of Bologna for his work on the theoretical development of immunology, Tauber has also published extensively in science studies and bioethics. He is the author or editor of at least 13 books, including Patient Autonomy and the Ethics of Responsibility (2005), Henry David Thoreau and the Moral Agency of Knowing (2001), and Confessions of a Medicine Man (1999). He lives in Boscawen, New Hampshire.