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Aesthetic values in science

Philosophy Compass 12 (10):e12433 (2017)

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  1. Scientific Theories and Philosophical Stances: Themes from van Fraassen.Claus Beisbart & Michael Frauchiger (eds.) - 2024 - De Gruyter.
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  • Agency and aesthetic identity.Kenneth Walden - 2023 - Philosophical Studies 180 (12):3253-3277.
    Schiller says that “it is only through beauty that man makes his way to freedom.” Here I attempt to defend a claim in the same spirit as Schiller’s but by different means. My thesis is that a person’s autonomous agency depends on their adopting an aesthetic identity. To act, we need to don contingent features of agency, things that structure our practical thought and explain what we do in very general terms but are neither universal nor necessary features of agency (...)
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  • Delineating beauty: On form and the boundaries of the aesthetic.Panos Paris - 2024 - Ratio 37 (1):76-87.
    Philosophical aesthetics has recently been expanding its purview—with exciting work on everyday aesthetics, somaesthetics, gustatory aesthetics, and the aesthetics of imperceptibilia like mathematics and human character—reclaiming territory that was lost during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, when the discipline begun concentrating almost exclusively on the philosophy of art and restricted the aesthetic realm to the distally perceptible. Yet there remains considerable reluctance towards acknowledging the aesthetic character of many of these objects. This raises an important question—partly made salient again by (...)
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  • Aesthetic Criteria in Fundamental Physics—The Viewpoint of Plato.Ivan Melo - 2022 - Philosophies 7 (5):96.
    I discuss the role of beauty in physics. Physicists are sometimes described as platonists for their conviction that the fundamental laws are elegant and aesthetic arguments represent an important epistemic tool. After a review of the ideas of Plato and some of the leading figures of modern physics, which suggest that this is indeed the case, I present a list of current aesthetic criteria. I focus on symmetry and unity and demonstrate their increasing relevance in an array of experimentally verified (...)
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  • What is a Beautiful Experiment?Milena Ivanova - 2022 - Erkenntnis 88 (8):3419-3437.
    This article starts an engagement on the aesthetics of experiments and offers an account for analysing how aesthetics features in the design, evaluation and reception of experiments. I identify two dimensions of aesthetic evaluation of experiments: design and significance. When it comes to design, a number of qualities, such as simplicity, economy and aptness, are analysed and illustrated with the famous Meselson-Stahl experiment. Beautiful experiments are also regarded to make significant discoveries, but I argue against a narrow construal of experimental (...)
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  • Mooreanism in Metaphysics from Mooreanism in Physics.Nina Emery - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
    I argue that the way the world appears to be plays an important role in standard scientific practice, and that therefore the way the world appears to be ought to play a similar role in metaphysics as well. I then show how the argument bears on a specific first-order debate in metaphysics—the debate over whether there are composite objects. This debate is often thought to be a paradigm case of a metaphysical debate that is largely insulated from scientific considerations, and (...)
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  • How (not) to understand weak measurements of velocities.Johannes Fankhauser & Patrick M. Dürr - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 85:16-29.
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  • Metaphors in arts and science.Walter Veit & Ney Milan - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-24.
    Metaphors abound in both the arts and in science. Due to the traditional division between these enterprises as one concerned with aesthetic values and the other with epistemic values there has unfortunately been very little work on the relation between metaphors in the arts and sciences. In this paper, we aim to remedy this omission by defending a continuity thesis regarding the function of metaphor across both domains, that is, metaphors fulfill any of the same functions in science as they (...)
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  • The Aesthetics of Science: Beauty, Imagination and Understanding.Milena Ivanova & Steven French (eds.) - 2020 - New York: Routledge.
    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 (...)
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  • The Aesthetic and Literary Qualities of Scientific Thought Experiments.Alice Murphy - 2020 - In Milena Ivanova & Steven French (eds.), The Aesthetics of Science: Beauty, Imagination and Understanding. New York: Routledge.
    Is there a role for aesthetic judgements in science? One aspect of scientific practice, the use of thought experiments, has a clear aesthetic dimension. Thought experiments are creatively produced artefacts that are designed to engage the imagination. Comparisons have been made between scientific (and philosophical) thought experiments and other aesthetically appreciated objects. In particular, thought experiments are said to share qualities with literary fiction as they invite us to imagine a fictional scenario and often have a narrative form (Elgin 2014). (...)
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  • Epistemic Engagement, Aesthetic Value, and Scientific Practice.Adrian Currie - 2023 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 74 (2):313-334.
    I develop an account of the relationship between aesthetics and knowledge, focusing on scientific practice. Cognitivists infer from ‘partial sensitivity’—aesthetic appreciation partly depends on doxastic states—to ‘factivity’, the idea that the truth or otherwise of those beliefs makes a difference to aesthetic appreciation. Rejecting factivity, I develop a notion of ‘epistemic engagement’: partaking genuinely in a knowledge-directed process of coming to epistemic judgements, and suggest that this better accommodates the relationship between the aesthetic and the epistemic. Scientific training (and other (...)
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  • One Imagination in Experiences of Beauty and Achievements of Understanding.Angela Breitenbach - 2020 - British Journal of Aesthetics 60 (1):71-88.
    I argue for the unity of imagination in two prima facie diverse contexts: experiences of beauty and achievements of understanding. I develop my argument in three steps. First, I begin by describing a type of aesthetic experience that is grounded in a set of imaginative activities on the part of the person having the experience. Second, I argue that the same set of imaginative activities that grounds this type of aesthetic experience also contributes to achievements of understanding. Third, I show (...)
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  • Aesthetic Virtues and Theory Acceptance.Milena Ivanova - 2024 - In Claus Beisbart & Michael Frauchiger (eds.), Scientific Theories and Philosophical Stances: Themes from van Fraassen. De Gruyter. pp. 147-164.
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  • Simplicity of what? A case study from generative linguistics.Giulia Terzian & María Inés Corbalán - 2020 - Synthese 198 (10):9427-9452.
    The Minimalist Program in generative linguistics is predicated on the idea that simplicity is a defining property of the human language faculty, on the one hand; on the other, a central aim of linguistic theorising. Worryingly, however, justifications for either claim are hard to come by in the literature. We sketch a proposal that would allow for both shortcomings to be addressed, and that furthermore honours the program’s declared commitment to naturalism. We begin by teasing apart and clarifying the different (...)
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  • Thought Experiments and the Scientific Imagination.Alice Murphy - 2020 - Dissertation, University of Leeds
    Thought experiments (TEs) are important tools in science, used to both undermine and support theories, and communicate and explain complex phenomena. Their interest within philosophy of science has been dominated by a narrow question: How do TEs increase knowledge? My aim is to push beyond this to consider their broader value in scientific practice. I do this through an investigation into the scientific imagination. Part one explores questions regarding TEs as “experiments in the imagination” via a debate concerning the epistemic (...)
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  • The aesthetics of scientific experiments.Milena Ivanova - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (3):e12730.
    This article explores the aesthetic dimensions of scientific experimentation, addressing specifically how aesthetic features enter the construction, evaluation and reception of an experiment. I highlight the relationship between experiments and artistic acts in the early years of the Royal Society where experiments do not serve only epistemic aims but also aim to generate feelings of awe and pleasure. I turn to analysing which aspects of experiments are appreciated aesthetically, identifying several contenders, from the ability of an experiment to uncover nature’s (...)
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  • Exploring the socio-ecology of science: the case of coral reefs.Elis Jones - 2024 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 14 (3):1-32.
    In this paper I use data from interviews conducted with coral scientists to examine the socio-ecological dimensions of science, i.e. how science shapes and is shaped by the living world around it. I use two sets of ideas in particular: niche construction and socio-ecological value frameworks. Using these I offer socio-ecological criteria by which coral scientists evaluate the activities of coral science, more specifically which living systems are intended to benefit from coral science as an activity, and the motivations behind (...)
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