Science and the Quest for Meaning
Imprint: Baylor University Press
267 Pages, 6.00 x 9.00 in
- Published: September 2020
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 text presents a centrist but highly consequently view, wherein "truth" and "objectivity" can function as working ideals and serve as pragmatic tools. 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
Deeply thoughtful, generously framed, stylishly written, and packed with well-chosen case studies, including a lively reinterpretation of what might constitute a scientific fact, Tauber’s argument relocates modern science inside a tradition of public discourse and human values. This timely and astute study is one of the most perceptive contributions to this debate to be published in recent years.~Janet Browne, Aramont Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University
An admirable and liberating rethinking of key issues in the philosophy of science. Who would have expected a book that begins with positivism and Quine to end with Thoreau?~Alasdair MacIntyre, Research Professor, University of Notre Dame
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
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
An original, comprehensive, and plausible intellectual framework to rejuvenate the dialogue between science and the humanities. Thanks to Tauber’s wide and deep historical and philosophical knowledge, the simplistic and often unrealistic views about the nature of science of both positivist and postmodern approaches are brought into critical focus.~Gilberto Corbellini, Professor of Bioethics and History of Medicine, Sapienza-University of Rome
A remarkable book by a remarkable author. Reflecting the interests and knowledge of both a medical researcher/physician and philosopher/historian of science, Tauber’s effort is vitally important, even if one has disagreements with parts of his argument. His synoptic vision of "how we got here" is amazing, as are his moral sensitivity and breadth of knowledge. Anyone who cares about repairing the fractures in our culture should read and ponder this book.~Hilary Putnam, Cogan University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy, Harvard University