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Disciplines and Approaches

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Part of the New Directions in the Philosophy of Science book series (NDPS)

Abstract

In this chapter, the most common ways of distinguishing between branches of science are criticised for focusing too narrowly on a few dimensions of a highly complex phenomenon. Some usually neglected aspects are pointed out, which are required for a more adequate account of disciplinarity. The complexity of disciplines, however, renders an adequate concept hereof more or less useless as the foundation for analyses of specific cases of interdisciplinarity. “Discipline” and related concepts are compared to the alternative “approach”, which, it is argued, will serve us better as the basic unit of analyses of scientific crossbreeding. The thought that disciplines should be considered as bundles (of bundles) of approaches is discussed and some consequences are drawn.

Keywords

  • Interfield Theories
  • Epistemic Aspects
  • Action Science Approach
  • Interdisciplinary Activities
  • Discussion Hereof

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    For instance, in terms of topics of interest, central aspects of methodology, paradigmatic examples of good practice, as well as theoretical background assumptions (Fauconnier and Turner 2002; Lakoff 1987; Margolis and Laurence 1999; Murphy 2002).

  2. 2.

    Just think of how Kant considered arithmetic to be the synthetic a priori truths of time, while he considered geometry to be the synthetic a priori truths of space [4:283].

  3. 3.

    —which is “a constant source of both delight and achievement among mathematicians” (Hacking 2014, p. 9).

  4. 4.

    As explicitly stated in the quotation above, Darden and Maul do indeed include problems in their characteristic of fields, as well.

  5. 5.

    According to www.oxforddictionaries.com, an approach is “a way of dealing with a situation or problem”. In the present context, of course, focus is on representational approaches, and the situation or problem is how to scientifically represent some phenomena. You can decide to adopt an entirely different approach or to slightly alter your present approach. Pretty straightforward, in my opinion.

  6. 6.

    There are some difficulties related to applying the exact same approach to different targets, though. These issues will be addressed in Chap. 7.

  7. 7.

    Indeed, grasping the concept “skill” may require some sort of meta-skill. In the words of Collins and Evans: “[S]kills [are] notoriously hard to explain—as qualitative sociologists know to their cost” (2002, p. 258).

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Hvidtfeldt, R. (2018). Disciplines and Approaches. In: The Structure of Interdisciplinary Science. New Directions in the Philosophy of Science. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-90872-4_2

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