Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Book Chapter ""Positive Biology" and Well-Ordered Science" now available

My latest book chapter titled “"Positive Biology" and Well-Ordered Science” has just been published in the edited book Measuring Well-Being: Interdisciplinary Perspectives from the Social Sciences and the Humanities by Oxford University Press.

The full book is available to download for free under “open access” for anyone interested in learning about interdisciplinary perspectives on wellbeing from the social sciences and humanities.

I think people may find this a timely read as we have hit the one year anniversary of the pandemic lock-downs. For over a year the focus of science, the media and public policy has been on pathology and minimizing the spread of one particular virus. If there is to be a future worth striving for, it is imperative that the public discourse, focus and policy decision-making turn to the broader concern of how to ensure human beings flourish.

The abstract of my chapter is below.

ABSTRACT: Going back to the Ancient Greeks (e.g. Plato and Aristotle), philosophers have long asked profound questions such as “What is knowledge?” and “What is the good life?”. Such questions compel us to engage in a deeper level of introspection and examination than most of us are typically accustomed to in our daily lives. The philosophical question contemplated in this chapter is: “What constitutes ‘well-ordered science’?” Invoking a virtue epistemological construal of knowledge as “success from ability” (Greco, 2010), I argue that the study of pathology must be supplemented by the study of the determinates of exemplary positive phenotypes (e.g. healthy aging and happiness). This requires transcending the limitations of what I call “negative biology”, and treating “positive biology” as an integral element of well-ordered science in the 21st century. Positive biology can help bring to the fore the importance of understanding the evolutionary and life history of our species, thus helping to provide the intellectual frameworks needed to inspire the development of novel and feasible interventions to improve human health.