What do you do as a philosopher of science if you conclude that researchers have overlooked a significant issue for 100 years?

What do you do as a philosopher of science if you conclude that researchers have overlooked a significant issue for 100 years? What does philosophy of science prescribe? (I’ll reveal at the end something significant I think has been overlooked, but these two questions stand even if you don’t see that issue as I do.) Starting with the first question, some possible answers:

  1. Stay quiet—You’re probably mistaken given the numbers of researchers involved over 100 years and science’s self-correcting mechanisms. (Perhaps something gets overlooked for 10 years, but not for 100…)
  2. Submit your ideas to science journals to see if you can get them recognized or have your errors exposed by reviewers.
  3. Submit your ideas to philosophy of science journals, again to see if you can get them recognized or have your errors exposed by reviewers.
  4. Tease out the historical, philosophical, sociological, political implications of the issue that has been overlooked and try to interest researchers from the various fields within science and technology studies in exploring those implications.
  5. Tease out the political implications of the issue that has been overlooked and try to get wider public debate going.

On the second question, the first answer above is consistent with boilerplate philosophical views on the scientific method. For the other four, which cover a range from direct to backdoor or indirect ways to influence scientific debates, Anglo-American philosophy of science does not provide much guidance. Why is that?

Conjectures, refutations, and other comments welcome.  We can also add a third question: What does sociology of science suggest will happen with efforts along the lines of #2-5?

Postscript: The particular issue that led to the questions above is the possibility of underlying heterogeneity that has not (yet) been seen as a significant issue in heritability studies and nature-nurture debates.

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One thought on “What do you do as a philosopher of science if you conclude that researchers have overlooked a significant issue for 100 years?

  1. Pingback: Alternation between complexities of situation studied and the situation of the studier: A series of writing projects | Intersecting Processes

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