Understanding Perspectivism : Scientific Challenges and Methodological Prospects book cover
1st Edition

Understanding Perspectivism
Scientific Challenges and Methodological Prospects

ISBN 9781138503069
Published June 11, 2019 by Routledge
210 Pages 4 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This edited collection is the first of its kind to explore the view called perspectivism in philosophy of science. The book brings together an array of essays that reflect on the methodological promises and scientific challenges of perspectivism in a variety of fields such as physics, biology, cognitive neuroscience, and cancer research, just as a few examples. What are the advantages of using a plurality of perspectives in a given scientific field and for interdisciplinary research? Can different perspectives be integrated? What is the relation between perspectivism, pluralism, and pragmatism? These ten new essays by top scholars in the field offer a polyphonic journey towards understanding the view called ‘perspectivism’ and its relevance to science.

Table of Contents


Michela Massimi and Casey D. McCoy

Chapter 1. Pragmatism, Perspectivism, and the Historicity of Science

Hasok Chang

Chapter 2. Explanation, interdisciplinarity, and perspectives

Melinda Bonnie Fagan

Chapter 3. What is Perspectivism, and Does it Count as Realism?

Paul Teller

Chapter 4. Realism and Explanatory Perspectives

Juha Saatsi

Chapter 5. Universality and the Problem of Inconsistent Models

Collin Rice

Chapter 6. Representationalism in Measurement Theory. Structuralism or Perspectivalism?

Johanna E. Wolff

Chapter 7. Safe-and-substantive perspectivism

David Danks

Chapter 8. Charting the Heraclitean Brain: Perspectivism and Simplification in Models of the Motor Cortex

Mazviita Chirimuuta

Chapter 9. Cancer Modeling: the Advantages and Limitations of Multiple Perspectives

Anya Plutynski

Chapter 10. Perspectives, Representation, and Integration

Sandra D. Mitchell

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Michela Massimi is Professor of Philosophy of Science at the University of Edinburgh, UK. She was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (2011-2016) and Vice President of the European Philosophy of Science Association (2015-2019).

Casey D. McCoy is a Postdoc at Stockholm University, Sweden. His research falls primarily within the philosophy of science and the philosophy of science and the philosophy of physics, and he has written on topics including inflationary cosmology, fine-tuning problems in physics, and the interpretation of statistical mechanics.


"It's an impressive collection of essays providing careful answers to questions about how to make sense of multiple, sometimes conflicting, perspectives in science. Ten chapters from outstanding scholars address a slew of implications of scientific perspectivism for classic positions in philosophy of science, primarily scientific realism, pluralism, and pragmatism . . . Professionals and graduate students would benefit from reading the book, as it should inspire ideas for philosophical questions to be addressed about their own areas of expertise." - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"This impressive collection is essential reading for appreciating the inevitable contextualities of scientific knowledge. It explores of how notions of "perspective" can illuminate the epistemic upshot of the sciences and how they are situated in their history, practices, representations, and sometimes competing aims, provocatively advancing debates about realism, pragmatism, explanation, and modeling in the process, all through a wealth of cases from physics, biology, neuroscience, and medical science." - Anjan Chakravartty, University of Miami

"An excellent collection of essays on a topic rapidly establishing itself as an important interpretive programme in philosophy of science. One of the volume’s many merits consists in showing the diversity and versatility of perspectivism while illustrating common features among its different varieties. The reader is thus provided an enormously rich foundation for evaluating the role of perspectivism in understanding science and its practices." - Margaret Morrison, University of Toronto

"Perspectivism is a fruitful metaphor for imagining alternatives to traditional realism in philosophy of science. Massimi and McCoy have gathered ten essays which show how perspectivism is illuminating in areas such as molecular biology and measurement theory, and also explore the relationships between perspectivism and other recent accounts including pragmatism, structural realism, pluralism, and scientific modelling. There is an excellent balance of established and emerging scholars in the field. This volume is a superb, cutting-edge text to use in an advanced graduate seminar." - Miriam Solomon, Temple University


"Massimi and McCoy’s collection provides the opposite of a one-sided diet of examples, and thus, it will clearly be nourishing to our thinking about PR." - Alexander Rueger, Metascience, 2020