Sunday, December 28, 2008

PLOS Biology Adds New Series on Historical and Philosophical Perspectives

Innovative interdisciplinary developments like this one- PLOS Biology has added a new series entitled "Historical and Philosophical Perspectives"- gives me hope that the current divide I lamented here may be narrowing. Here is a sample from the editorial:

It has been said that biologists are used to surprises in their research, but rarely has the pace at which startling, even earthshaking, new discoveries are reported equaled that which we have seen in the biological literature over the last twenty years. Many of these new findings upset some of our oldest and most cherished assumptions about the nature of biological processes, causing us to rethink accepted theories of heredity, of development, and even of evolution. At such a time, it can often be useful to cast a wide eye—both backward over the past history of biological thought, and sideways, over the kinds of analyses that philosophers of biology have to offer.

There is also another reason for the timeliness of this series, and it is of an altogether different kind: never before has the impact of developments in the biological sciences on our social and economic life been so rapid or so dramatic. Again, a historical perspective may provide us with useful insights, as might the perspective offered by social scientists trained in the study of social and economic change.

The aim of the series launched in this issue of PLoS Biology is to encourage productive dialogue between laboratory researchers and historians and philosophers about the many challenges before us. Our hope is that, through such dialogue, we can all broaden our horizons in ways that will facilitate the meeting of these challenges.