“So … who is your audience?”

  • Philip KitcherEmail author
Paper in General Philosophy of Science
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. EPSA17: Selected papers from the biannual conference in Exeter


To whom, if anyone, are the writings of philosophers of science relevant? There are three potential groups of people: Philosophers, Scientists, and Interested Citizens, within and beyond the academy. I argue that our discipline is potentially relevant to all three, but I particularly press the claims of the Interested Citizens. My essay is in dialogue with a characteristically insightful lecture given thirty years ago by Arthur Fine. Addressing the Philosophy of Science Association as its president, Fine argued that general philosophy of science was dead, and that all the action lay in the philosophy of the special sciences. I try to identify what was correct about Fine’s diagnosis, while supplementing his message by describing fruitful projects that have since emerged. I also hope to share his subversive spirit.


General philosophy of science Philosophy of the special sciences Audience for philosophy Philosophy and public issues 



I am grateful to Stephan Hartmann and Michela Massimi for inviting me to address EPSA 2017, and to the audience members who posed excellent questions and made helpful comments, when this talk was delivered. For helpful comments on an earlier draft, I am indebted to two anonymous referees.

In my revisions, I have tried to preserve the relatively informal voice of the original, and have inserted references only in places where it might be hard to track down my allusions.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

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