Archive for May, 2013


Toward a Philosophy of Synthetic Science: Lessons from Nanosynthesis

May 30, 2013

Julia Bursten

Philosophers of science have spilled much ink discussing how scientific theories and models work. A vast majority of the theories and models they have studied have come from parts of science whose theories only describe the natural world, such as general relativity, quantum field theories, or population genetics. Consequently, philosophers of science have often overlooked the structure and function of theories and models in “synthetic” sciences such as chemistry, materials science, and engineering, where part of scientific practice is making something new, over and above describing what is already out there. Getting clearer on how models and theories work in synthetic sciences will benefit practitioners of those sciences as they develop new theories and models, as well as illuminating recent debates in philosophy of science about the structure and function of scientific theories and models.