Perhaps the single most continuous theme of my work concerns the relations between philosophy and the natural sciences, especially biology. For instance: What implications does modern biology have for our understanding of ourselves and our "place" in the world? What relations of influences can be sketched between biology and philosophy in the course of their modern histories? How has authority been divided and negotiated between epistemological or ethical positions, on the one hand, and biological concepts, perspectives, and models, on the other? How should it be divided or negotiated, and why?
I use philosophical (analytic and systematic), historical, and social-scientific approaches to address such questions.
My first major research project was a critical historical reconstruction of the bio-philosophical tradition known in Germany as philosophische Anthropologie ("philosophical anthropology") and an evaluation of its arguments and implications, particularly regarding human animality and human distinctiveness. This project resulted in several published papers, a dissertation, and an edited book with Palgrave MacMillan. I continue to be active in this area and have several publications in the works.
My second major project has been a history of the philosophy of biology, 1950-present. It uses bibliometric, archival, oral history, and computational HPS approaches and is funded through a two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Michael Dietrich (Dept. of HPS, U.Pittsburgh) is my Postdoctoral Mentor on this grant. An abstract may be found here.
In addition to these larger projects, I've published on a number of other issues over the years including the species problem, realism and anti-realism in American neo-pragmatism, pluralism in contemporary philosophy of science, abductive inference in history, and the political philosophy of Frantz Fanon. Works-in-progress include papers on microbial taxonomy, the structure of scientific collaborations, Charles Darwin, and Pierre Duhem.
"When I am asked what my speciality
is in philosophy, I stammer and say,
‘Oh, well, this and that.’"