Why science needs philosophy

Talk by Lucie Laplane (CNRS, Panthéon-Sorbonne University, Paris)

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Dr. Lucie Laplane

In a recent paper, Laplane and her colleagues argue that science needs philosophy. While "present-day scientists often perceive philosophy as completely different from, and even antagonistic to, science", Laplane thinks that "philosophy can have an important and productive impact on science". Indeed, she thinks that for a "reinvigoration of science at all levels" science needs "close ties with philosophy".

Dr. Laplane will talk to us about these ideas, and about why she thinks that many of the best scientist actually understood that good science depends on philosophy:


A knowledge of the historic and philosophical background gives that kind of independence from prejudices of his generation from which most scientists are suffering. This independence created by philosophical insight is—in my opinion—the mark of distinction between a mere artisan or specialist and a real seeker after truth.

Albert Einstein, Letter to Robert Thornton, 1944


A society that permits biology to become an engineering discipline, that allows science to slip into the role of changing the living world without trying to understand it, is a danger to itself.

Carl Woese, A new biology for a new century. Microbiol Mol Biol Rev 68:173–186, 2004


Published July 25, 2019 9:28 PM - Last modified July 25, 2019 9:28 PM