We organise a conversation with the author, Federica Russo, around her motivation to write this book, exploring the potential change in the research and teaching of Philosophy of Science and Technology.
- Dr. Hein van den Berg
- Prof. dr. ir. Mieke Boon
- Prof. dr. Hans Radder
- Dr. Massimiliano Simons
Institute for Advanced Study
Oude Turfmarkt 147
Synopsis of the book
In scholarly debates, as well as in everyday parlance, we tend to pull science and technology apart: science gives us theory, and technology applies it. In practice, however, science and technologies are highly intertwined. This book sets out to look at the practice of science, and to elucidate the role of technologies and of instruments in the process of knowledge production. In this exercise, it becomes evident that, in the context of scientific practices, technologies cannot be analyzed on their own, but always in relation to us epistemic agents. Thus, the book pleads for the importance to look at the process of knowledge production in techno-scientific practices, in which there is a triad of relations to look at: us – the instruments – and the world.
Russo positions her work at the cross-road of rich and well-developed debates in Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Technology, Philosophy of Science in Practice, and Science and Technology Studies. In particular, it is argued that the way in which science and technology are intertwined cannot be addressed by simply ‘juxtaposing’ methods, approaches, and objects of investigation typical of Philosophy of Science and of Philosophy of Technology. In spite of wide criticism of the concept, Russo argues for a qualified understanding of ‘techno-science’. Methodologically, the book makes two important moves. One move is to look at practices, and the specific take on practices is discussed with respect to the ‘practice turns’ in Philosophy of Science and in Sociology of Science. Another move is to adopt the Philosophy of Information as a philosophical methodology. Specifically, Russo adopts Constructionism as a theory of knowledge that is mid-way between realism and constructivism, and the Method of the Levels of Abstraction, which is meant to provide a most general methodology for posing and addressing philosophical questions, in a rigorous (but not rigid) way, and to foster dialogue across levels.
The first objective of the book is to offer an epistemology of techno-scientific practice. The revisiting of debates on modeling and model validation, evidence, and truth, is meant to shed light on the various ways in which, in the process of knowledge production, technologies and techno-scientists are involved. The production of knowledge, in techno-scientific practices, is captured by the concept of poiêsis: both human and artificial epistemic agents take active part in this process. Along the way, it is explained how a practice approach and an informational perspective help build such an epistemology. The second objective of the book is to motivate a discussion of ontological questions from the vantage point of epistemology. Russo follows the constructionist approach of Luciano Floridi and the ontoepistemology of Karen Barad in setting up a discourse on selected ontological questions in techno-scientific practices. Specifically, it is argued that the epistemology developed in the first part of the book leads to exploring process-based ontologies (instead of entity-based ones) and to rethinking causal production in terms of information transmission.In the closing chapter, Russo reflects on the work ahead for a Philosophy of Techno-Science, and on the potential role of the Philosophy of Information to re-connect areas that, in the course of time, developed too autonomously: (Techno-)Science, Philosophy of Science and of Technology, and Ethics/Political Philosophy.