History and Philosophy Of Science | The Theory and Practice of Big Science
X706 | 26313 | James Capshew/Jutta Schickore

The Theory and Practice of Big Science
9:30 a.m.-12:00 noon

Exploring the History and Philosophy of Big Science

“The large-scale character of modern science, new and shining and
all-powerful, is so apparent that the happy term “Big Science” has
been coined to describe it.”

---Derek Price, Little Science, Big Science, 1963.

This seminar explores the world of "Big Science" in its historical
and philosophical dimensions. In the first part of the course, we
will seek to clarify the many meanings of "big," including notions
of scope, scale, and significance, as they relate to the rise of
modern science. We will see how large-scale research has been
treated in various historiographical contexts, including astronomy,
high-energy physics, and biomedicine.

In the second part of the course, we will turn to epistemological
and ethical issues. In the absence of a scholarly literature on the
philosophy of big science, this part of the course will be
exploratory. We will compile a list of outstanding philosophical
problems and discuss how best to approach them. We will consider and
peruse contributions to social epistemology, the epistemology of
testimony, science and values, research ethics, scientific
authorship, and related fields to see if they can help solve the
philosophical questions raised by the practice of big science.