Philosophical intervention and cross-disciplinary science: the story of the Toolbox Project
In this article we argue that philosophy can facilitate improvement in cross-disciplinary science. In particular, we discuss in detail the Toolbox Project, an effort in applied epistemology that deploys philosophical analysis for the purpose of enhancing collaborative, cross-disciplinary scientific research through improvements in cross-disciplinary communication. We begin by sketching the scientific context within which the Toolbox Project operates, a context that features a growing interest in and commitment to cross-disciplinary research (CDR). We then develop an argument for the leading idea behind this effort, namely, that philosophical dialogue can improve cross-disciplinary science by effecting epistemic changes that lead to better group communication. On the heels of this argument, we describe our approach and its output; in particular, we emphasize the Toolbox instrument that generates philosophical dialogue and the Toolbox workshop in which that dialogue takes place. Together, these constitute a philosophical intervention into the life of CDR teams. We conclude by considering the philosophical implications of this intervention.
KeywordsToolbox Project Philosophical intervention Applied epistemology Cross-disciplinary research Collaboration Communication
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). In M. Holquist (Ed.), The dialogic imagination: Four essays (M. Holquist & C. Emerson, Trans.). Austin, TX: The University of Texas Press.Google Scholar
- Baron N. (2010) Escape from the Ivory Tower: A guide to making your science matter. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Baxter L. A., Montgomery B. M. (1998) A guide to dialectical approaches to studying personal relationships. In: Montgomery B., Baxter L. Dialectical approaches to studying personal relationships. Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJGoogle Scholar
- Beebe S. A., Masterson J. T. (2009) Communicating in small groups: Principles and practices (9th ed.). Pearson, BostonGoogle Scholar
- Bennett L. M., Gadlin H., Levine-Finley S. (2010) Collaboration and team science: A field guide. National Institutes for Health, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
- Bird, A., & Kuhn, T. (Winter 2011 Edition). In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2011/entries/thomas-kuhn/. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Crowley, S. J., Eigenbrode, S. D, O’Rourke, M., & Wulfhorst, J. D. (2010). Localization in cross-disciplinary research: A philosophical approach. Multilingual 114. http://www.multilingual.com/downloads/114LCDR.pdf. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- Eaglesham, A., & Hardy, R. W. F. (Eds.). (2009). Adapting agriculture to climate change. National Agricultural Biotechnology Council Report 21. Ithaca, NY.Google Scholar
- Eigenbrode, S. D., O’Rourke, M., Althoff, D., Goldberg, C., Merrill, K., Morse, W., et al. (2007). Employing philosophical dialogue in collaborative science. BioScience, 57, 5564.Google Scholar
- Feldman, R., Warfield, T. (Eds.). (2010) Disagreement. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Frodeman, R., Klein, J. T., Mitcham, C. (Eds.). (2010) The Oxford handbook of interdisciplinarity. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Galison P. (1997) Image and logic. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Goffman E. (1981) Forms of talk. University of Pennsylvania Press, PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
- Gorman, M. E. (Eds.). (2010) Trading zones and interactional expertise. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Johnstone B. (2008) Discourse analysis (2nd ed.). Blackwell Publishing, Malden, MAGoogle Scholar
- Keyton J. (1999) Relational communication in groups. In: Frey L.R., Gouran D.S., Poole M.S. (Eds.), The handbook of group communication theory and research. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA, pp 192–222Google Scholar
- Klein J. T. (1990) Interdisciplinarity: History, theory, and practice. Wayne State University Press, Detroit, MIGoogle Scholar
- Klein J. T (1996) Crossing boundaries: Knowledge, disciplinarities, and interdisciplinarities. University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, VIGoogle Scholar
- Klein J. T. (2010) Creating interdisciplinary campus cultures: A model for strength and sustainability. Jossey-Bass, San FranciscoGoogle Scholar
- Klein J. T. (2011) Research integration: A comparative knowledge base. In: Repko A. F., Newell W. H., Szostak R. Case studies in interdisciplinary research. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CAGoogle Scholar
- Kornblith H. (1993) Inductive inference and its natural ground. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
- Kuhn, T.  (1962/1970a). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2nd edition, with postscript).Google Scholar
- Littlejohn S. W., Foss K. A. (2008) Theories of human communication (9th ed.). Thomson Wadsworth, Belmont, CAGoogle Scholar
- Machlis, G. E., Hanson, T., Špirić, Z., & Mckendry, J. E. (2011). Warfare ecology: A new synthesis for peace and Security.. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series C: Environmental Security. Dordrecht: Springer.Google Scholar
- Miller, T. R., Baird, T. D., Littlefield, C. M., Kofinas, G., Chapin III, F. S., & Redman, C. L. (2008). Epistemological pluralism: Reorganizing interdisciplinary research. Ecology and Society, 13(2), 46. http://www.ecologyandsociety.org/vol13/iss2/art46/. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- National Academy of Sciences, Committee on Facilitating Interdisciplinary Research and Committee on Science Engineering and Public Policy (NAS). (2004). Facilitating interdisciplinary Research. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.Google Scholar
- Polanyi M. (1958) Personal knowledge: Towards a post-critical philosophy. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
- Powell J. (1990) Why am I afraid to tell you who I am?. Argus Communications, Niles, ILGoogle Scholar
- Russell B. (1997) The problems of philosophy. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
- Winowiecki L., Smukler S., Shirley K., Remans R., Peltier G., Lothes E. et al (2011) Tools for enhancing interdisciplinary communication. Sustainability: Science, Practice, and Policy 7(1): 74–80Google Scholar