Friday, 19 January 2007
Nature as Laboratory: Experiments in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Brad Wilson, Department of Philosophy
Slippery Rock University
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: Most of the philosophical work done on experimentation has focused on the physical sciences, i.e., physics and chemistry. Several themes have emerged from this work: the significance of the interaction between an experimental apparatus and the world (Harré), a view of knowledge as embodied in instruments and experimental techniques (Baird), the idea that experimenters create phenomena in the laboratory that do not exist outside of the laboratory (Hacking). I will consider to what extent these themes are relevant to experimentation in ecology and evolutionary biology, and will identify some important differences between laboratory experiments and experiments in nature.