Prof Beckett SternerMember since: 04/18/2020 - 20:58
I study the social epistemology of pluralism: what knowledge do we need to get things done together while differing in fundamental ways? I investigate this question in the context of the life sciences, where globally coordinating data-intensive research has taken on central importance for addressing societal challenges such as biodiversity loss and climate change. In this setting, mathematical formalization plays a critical role in shaping how scientists are able to communicate and interact in their pursuit of knowledge as a collective endeavor. My research therefore bridges between History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) and the natural sciences, reflecting my interdisciplinary training and my position as a philosopher in ASU’s School of Life Sciences. I bring a novel approach to pluralism in the information age through my emphasis on the social dimension of mathematical formalization: abstraction enables scientists to coordinate joint activities without requiring everyone to agree on what those activities mean in their local circumstances.