Scientific knowledge has become the paradigmatic way of understanding the world, and even ourselves. As society we pour vast quantities of resources into scientific research, and as society we expect science to come up with definitive answers to all our questions. But is a realistic expectation of science? Is it even desirable?
As a philosopher of science, my research aims at understanding better how precisely science aims to explain the world. What is the structure of scientific explanation, and can it really deliver on the precision that we have to expect of it?
I am in particular interested in how scientific reality often falls far short of our expectations of it. For instance, science has been marred by high-profile cases of fraud and misconduct, as well as an endemic lack of reproducibility. Why is this? Are there factors holding back scientific reality from reaching the scientific ideal? Or is our idealised expectation of science unrealistic?
I also direct my philosophical focus to biology in particular. Even though my scientific background is in physics, biology is especially fascinating for a philosopher since it has helped to ground the human world in the natural world. More than theories in any other science, biological theories since Darwin pushed us to reconceive of ourselves and our place win the world. But also here, the views that make it into the public debate are often grossly simplified (‘idealizations’ if you will) and not always as grounded in the actual theory as one would hope.
In particular, I do work on the fundamental concepts in biological and especially evolutionary theory (such as ‘fitness’, or ‘success’ or ‘natural selection’), and seek to extract consequences for how we understand the history of life, as well as the history of human evolution.