If Peter Lipton is right, namely that,
"Astronomers study the stars; philosophers of science study the astronomers. That is, philosophers of science—along with historians and sociologists of science—are in the business of trying to account for how science works and what it achieves" (Lipton, 2005: 1259).then philosophers of science have to able to see beyond current trends and political avarice. After all who watches the philosophers of science?
The trend of embracing apparent dichotomies within systematics and biogeography rather than question them, is one of things that philosophers of science need to get over. Philosophers of science need to question, examine and assess such divisions and not blindly accept them as many seem to do.
Below we list the top 10 dichotomies in systematics and biogeography that philosophers of science need to get over:
- Morphology and Molecules
- Homology and analogy
- Homology and homoplasy
- Transformational and Taxic Homology
- Synapomorphy and symplesiomorphy
- Congruence and consensus
- Cladistics and Phenetics
- Simultaneous analysis and separate analysis
- Ecological and Historical Biogeography
- Dispersal and Vicariance
Just because scientists use these divisions does not mean they actually exist. Dichotomies often groups "us" from "them". Science is not immune from subjectivity or distortion of "the facts" through clever manipulation. Scientific decisions too are sometimes decided upon politics, personality and fashion.
Philosophers of science are there to make sure that fish caught last Sunday afternoon was indeed "that big". In believing, rather than questioning, the divisions between certain ideas that are made by scientists, philosophers of science are unable to for "account for how science works". For some philosophers of science, the one that got away was "ooh .. so big, bigger than anything you have ever seen".
"Indeed, one might go so far as to worry that if philosophy did have any impact on scientists, it would be pernicious, depriving them of the kinds of commitment and confidence upon which their practice depends" (Lipton, 2005: 1269).Philosophers of science have already influenced science, based on some of the highly questionable divisions listed above, to the extent that that it has been fashionable to attribute the cladistics/phenetics "war" in systematics to real events rather than to a poor account of how science functions (i.e., Hull, 1988).
Hull, D.L. 1988. Science as Process: An Evolutionary Account of the Social and Conceptual Development of Science. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Lipton, P. 2005. The Medawar Lecture 2004: The truth about science. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B, 360, 1259–1269.