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The Contingency of Science and the Future of Philosophy

11 July 2011

Abstract

Contemporary metaphilosophical debates on the future of philosophy invariably include references to the natural sciences. This is wholly understandable given the cognitive and cultural authority of the sciences and their contributions to philosophical thought and practice. However such appeals to the sciences should be moderated by reflections on contingency of sciences. Using the work of contemporary historians and philosophers of science, I argue that an awareness of the radical contingency of science supports the claim that philosophy’s future should not be construed as either dependent or necessarily related to that of the sciences. Therefore contemporary debates – about the possibility of philosophy’s status as a science, say – should be tempered by an appreciation of the fact that science may cease to be a significant feature of future metaphilosophical debates. I conclude by considering the implications of this claim for assessments of the progressiveness of philosophy.


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