In Search of the Soul in Science: Medical Ethics' Appropriation of Philosophy of Science in the 1970s

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 31 (1):5 - 33 (2009)
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This paper examines the deployment of science studies within the field of medical ethics. For a short time, the discourse of medical ethics became a fertile ground for a dialogue between philosophically minded bioethicists and the philosophers of science who responded to Thomas Kuhn's challenge. In their discussion of the validity of Kuhn's work, these bioethicists suggested a distinct interpretation of Kuhn, emphasizing the elements in his account that had been independently developed by Michael Polanyi, and propelling a view of science that retreated from idealizations of scientific method without sacrificing philosophical realism. Appropriating Polanyi, they extended his account of science to biology and medicine. The contribution of Karl Popper to the debate on the applicability of philosophy of science to the issues of medical ethics provides the opportunity to discuss the ways in which political agendas of different epistemologies of science intertwined with questions of concern to medical ethics



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