The Aesthetics of Science : Beauty, Imagination and Understanding book cover
1st Edition

The Aesthetics of Science
Beauty, Imagination and Understanding

ISBN 9780367141141
Published January 22, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

This volume builds on two recent developments in philosophy on the relationship between art and science: the notion of representation and the role of values in theory choice and the development of scientific theories. Its aim is to address questions regarding scientific creativity and imagination, the status of scientific performances—such as thought experiments and visual aids—and the role of aesthetic considerations in the context of discovery and justification of scientific theories.

Several contributions focus on the concept of beauty as employed by practising scientists, the aesthetic factors at play in science and their role in decision making. Other essays address the question of scientific creativity and how aesthetic judgment resolves the problem of theory choice by employing aesthetic criteria and incorporating insights from both objectivism and subjectivism. The volume also features original perspectives on the role of the sublime in science and sheds light on the empirical work studying the experience of the sublime in science and its relation to the experience of understanding.

The Aesthetics of Science tackles these topics from a variety of novel and thought-provoking angles. It will be of interest to researchers and advanced students in philosophy of science and aesthetics, as well as other subdisciplines such as epistemology and philosophy of mathematics.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Milena Ivanova and Steven French

2. Epistemic Gatekeepers: The Role of Aesthetic Factors in Science

Catherine Elgin

3. Getting the Picture: Towards a New Account of Scientific Understanding

Letitia Meynell

4. Imagination, Aesthetic Feelings, and Scientific Reasoning

Cain Todd

5. Beauty, Truth and Understanding

Milena Ivanova

6. A Plea for the Sublime in Science

Margherita Arcangeli and Jérome Dokic

7. How Can Loveliness be a Guide to Truth? Inference to the Best Explanation and Exemplars

Alexander Bird

8. The Aesthetic and Literary Qualities of Scientific Thought Experiments

Alice Murphy

9. Epistemic Radicals and The Vice of Arrogance as a Counterfeit to the Virtue of Assured Epistemic Ambition

Matthew Kieran

10. Performance and Practice: Situating the Aesthetic Qualities of Theories

Steven French

View More



Steven French is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Leeds, UK. He is a co-editor of Thinking about Science, Reflecting on Art (Routledge, 2017) and Co-Editor-in-Chief of The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.

Milena Ivanova is Teaching Associate in the Department for History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge and Bye-Fellow at Fitzwilliam College


"The papers are quite consistent and follow a nice structure. Even if you are working on more technical issues in the philosophy of science, it would nice to read some of these papers to have a new and enlightening look on how our understanding of the actual work of science might be extended." - Adam Tamsa Tuboly, Hungarian Academy of Sciences