Abstract of a manuscript (updated 3 Dec 18). Comments welcome—email me for the full draft.
Participants in debates about developments in science and technology point to issues overlooked or downplayed by scientists—or, if the debate is among scientists themselves, by other scientists. Sometimes included among participants in debates are interpreters of science—sociologists, historians, philosophers, and scholars from other fields of Science and Technology Studies. Taking these scholars as the audience, this article asks what should we do if we identify a significant issue not yet subject to debate?
If heritability is high for a given trait, it might seem that genetic influences outweigh environmental and resources for research to understand the trait are better devoted to looking for the genes rather than the environmental influences.
There are many complications to this line of thinking, Continue reading
“What to do if we think that researchers have overlooked a significant issue for 100 years?
The case of quantitative genetics and underlying heterogeneity”
Presentation to History & Philosophy of Science Department at Indiana University, with publicity to science departments
Heterogeneity #4, Deviation from the type or essential trajectory -> Heterogeneity #6: Variation, not types -> Heterogeneity #9. Heterogeneity in pathways of development
see post on fluoridation
Heterogeneity #7, Possibility of “underlying heterogeneity”
Different kinds or combinations of factors are involved in what is deemed the same response. The challenge is to expose the factors and the ways they contribute to the response in question, if that is possible.
• Consider the height a high jumper jumps. The athlete may use the classical approach to the jump and movements in the air or those of the Fosbury flop.
see post on twin studies
Heterogeneity #9, Heterogeneity in pathways of development -> potential for #11, Participatory restructuring through multiple points of engagement
see post on PKU: Responding to genetic conditions requires social infrastructure
(continuing a series of posts—see first post; see next post)
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:
- 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…)
- Submit your ideas to science journals to see if you can get them recognized or have your errors exposed by reviewers.
- Submit your ideas to philosophy of science journals, again to see if you can get them recognized or have your errors exposed by reviewers.
- 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.
- 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.