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Massimiliano Simons
University of Ghent
  1. The Parliament of Things and the Anthropocene: How to Listen to ‘Quasi-Objects’.Massimiliano Simons - 2017 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 21 (2/3):1-25.
    Among the contemporary philosophers using the concept of the Anthropocene, Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers are prominent examples. The way they use this concept, however, diverts from the most common understanding of the Anthropocene. In fact, their use of this notion is a continuation of their earlier work around the concept of a ‘parliament of things.’ Although mainly seen as a sociology or philosophy of science, their work can be read as philosophy of technology as well. Similar to Latour’s claim (...)
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  2.  13
    The Diversity of Engineering in Synthetic Biology.Massimiliano Simons - 2020 - NanoEthics 14 (1):71-91.
    A recurrent theme in the characterization of synthetic biology is the role of engineering. This theme is widespread in the accounts of scholars studying this field and the biologists working in it, in those of the biologists themselves, as well as in policy documents. The aim of this article is to open this black-box of engineering that is supposed to influence and change contemporary life sciences. Too often, both synthetic biologists and their critics assume a very narrow understanding of what (...)
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  3. Were Experiments Ever Neglected? Ian Hacking and the History of Philosophy of Experiment.Massimiliano Simons & Matteo Vagelli - 2021 - Philosophical Inquiries 9 (1):167-188.
    Ian Hacking’s Representing and Intervening is often credited as being one of the first works to focus on the role of experimentation in philosophy of science, catalyzing a movement which is sometimes called the “philosophy of experiment” or “new experimentalism”. In the 1980s, a number of other movements and scholars also began focusing on the role of experimentation and instruments in science. Philosophical study of experimentation has thus seemed to be an invention of the 1980s whose central figure is Hacking. (...)
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  4. Dreaming of a Universal Biology: Synthetic Biology and the Origins of Life.Massimiliano Simons - 2021 - Hyle: International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry 27:91-116.
    Synthetic biology aims to synthesize novel biological systems or redesign existing ones. The field has raised numerous philosophical questions, but most especially what is novel to this field. In this article I argue for a novel take, since the dominant ways to understand synthetic biology’s specificity each face problems. Inspired by the examination of the work of a number of chemists, I argue that synthetic biology differentiates itself by a new regime of articulation, i.e. a new way of articulating the (...)
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  5. Surrationalism After Bachelard: Michel Serres and le Nouveau Nouvel Esprit Scientifique.Massimiliano Simons - 2019 - Parrhesia 31:60-84.
    The work of Michel Serres is often presented as a radical break with the work of Gaston Bachelard. The aim of this paper is to partly correct this image, by focusing on Serres’s early Hermes series (1969-1980). In these books Serres portrays himself as a follower of Bachelard, exemplarily shown in his neologism of the ‘new new scientific spirit’ (le nouveau nouvel esprit scientifique), updating Bachelard in the light of more recent scientific developments. This allows a reinterpretation of the relation (...)
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  6.  88
    Positivism in Action: The Case of Louis Rougier.Fons Dewulf & Massimiliano Simons - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 11 (2).
    In this paper, we investigate how the life and work of Louis Rougier relate to the broader political dimension of logical empiricist philosophy. We focus on three practical projects of Rougier in the 1930s and 1940s. First, his attempts to integrate French-speaking philosophers into an international network of scientific philosophers by organizing two Unity of Science conferences in Paris. Second, his role in the renewal of liberalism through the organization of the Walter Lippmann Colloquium. Third, Rougier’s attempts at political negotiations (...)
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  7. Obligation to Judge or Judging Obligations: The Integration of Philosophy and Science in Francophone Philosophy of Science.Massimiliano Simons - 2019 - In Emily Herring, Kevin Matthew Jones, Konstantin S. Kiprijanov & Laura M. Sellers (eds.), The Past, Present, and Future of Integrated History and Philosophy of Science. Londen, Verenigd Koninkrijk: pp. 139-160.
    The aim of this chapter is to show how Francophone PS, or what is called French (historical) epistemology, embodies this interconnectedness. Moreover, a novel approach to what constitutes French epistemology will be developed here, going beyond a purely historical survey or a reevaluation of a range of concepts found in this tradition.7 The aim is instead to highlight two methodological principles at work in French epistemology that are often in tension with one another, but are not recognized as such in (...)
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  8.  18
    Synthetic Biology as a Technoscience: The Case of Minimal Genomes and Essential Genes.Massimiliano Simons - 2021 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 85:127-136.
    This article examines how minimal genome research mobilizes philosophical concepts such as minimality and essentiality. Following a historical approach the article aims to uncover what function this terminology plays and which problems are raised by them. Specifically, four historical moments are examined, linked to the work of Harold J. Morowitz, Mitsuhiro Itaya, Eugene Koonin and Arcady Mushegian, and J. Craig Venter. What this survey shows is a historical shift away from historical questions about life or descriptive questions about specific organisms (...)
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  9.  37
    Gatekeepers and Gated Communities: The Role of Technology in Our Shifting Reciprocities.Massimiliano Simons - forthcoming - Philosophy Today.
    In his essay Down to Earth (2018), the French philosopher Bruno Latour proposes a hypothesis that connects a number of contemporary issues, ranging from climate denialism to deregulation and growing inequality. While his hypothesis, that the elites act as if they live in another world and are leaving the rest of the world behind, might seem like a conspiracy theory, I will argue that there is a way to make sense of this hypothesis. To do so, I will turn to (...)
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  10. Gaston Bachelard and Contemporary Philosophy.Massimiliano Simons, Jonas Rutgeerts, Anneleen Masschelein & Paul Cortois - 2019 - Parrhesia 31:1-16.
    This special issue aims to redress the balance and to open up Gaston Bachelard's work beyond a small in-crowd of experts and aficionado’s in France. It aims to stimulate the discovery of new and understudied aspects of Bachelard’s work, including aspects of the intellectual milieu he was working in. Fortunately, for this purpose we were able to rely both on renowned Bachelard specialists, such as Hans-Jörg Rheinberg-er, Cristina Chimisso and Dominique Lecourt, as well as on a number of younger scholars (...)
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  11.  81
    De onoplosbare spanning in expertise-gebaseerd beleid.Maarten Van Dyck & Massimiliano Simons - 2021 - Filosofie-Tijdschrift 31 (6):18-21.
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  12. Naar een emancipatie van de complottheorie.Massimiliano Simons - 2017 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 3 (79):473-497.
    This article argues that pseudoscience lacks an adequate philosophical analysis. Using conspiracy theories as a case study, it is claimed that such an analysis needs to go beyond a mere epistemological approach. In the first part, it is shown that the existing philosophical literature shares the assumption that conspiracy theories are primarily deficient scientific hypotheses. This claim is contested, because such an approach can only understand what conspiracy theories fail to be, but not what they are and why people tend (...)
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  13.  6
    Fenomenotechniek.Massimiliano Simons & Hannes van Engeland - 2020 - Algemeen Nederlands Tijdschrift voor Wijsbegeerte 112 (4):508-512.
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  14.  28
    History as Engagement: The Historical Epistemology of Raymond Aron.Massimiliano Simons - forthcoming - Perspectives in Science.
    Raymond Aron was a student of Léon Brunschvicg, a representative of French historical epistemology. This article explores Aron’s relation to this tradition through three claims. First of all, it contests that Raymond Aron’s philosophy of history constituted a complete break with this tradition. Secondly, resituating Aron in this tradition is valuable, because it highlights how Aron’s own philosophy of history is to be understood as a normative project, seen as an alternative to that of Brunschvicg. Finally, Aron’s philosophy can still (...)
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  15.  22
    Bruno Latour and the Secularization of Science.Massimiliano Simons - 2019 - Perspectives on Science 27 (6):925-954.
    Many young dreamers who want to be modern up to the tips of their toes, and who think they have gotten rid of these barely imaginable old-fashioned ideas, are, without realizing it, mystics in search of a spiritual experience. Several sociologists of science have mobilized secularization metaphors to describe developments in the study of science. Similar to how secularization refers to a decreasing status of religion and God as a transcendent factor in society, the secularization of science refers to an (...)
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  16. The Janus Head of Bachelard’s Phenomenotechnique: From Purification to Proliferation and Back.Massimiliano Simons - 2017 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (3):689-707.
    The work of Gaston Bachelard is known for two crucial concepts, that of the epistemological rupture and that of phenomenotechnique. A crucial question is, however, how these two concepts relate to one another. Are they in fact essentially connected or must they be seen as two separate elements of Bachelard’s thinking? This paper aims to analyse the relation between these two Bachelardian moments and the significance of the concept of phenomenotechnique for today. This will be done by examining how the (...)
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  17. Franco 'Bifo' Berardi en de economische wetenschap als ideologie.Tim Christiaens & Massimiliano Simons - 2017 - de Uil van Minerva: Tijdschrift Voor Geschiedenis En Wijsbegeerte van de Cultuur 30 (1):44-68.
    Wij presenteren Berardi’s herwerking van de ideologiekritiek in drie stappen. Eerst schetsen wij de context waarin Berardi de ideologiekritiek herdenkt. Hij bouwt verder op de ontdekking van Deleuze en Guattari dat de taal van het kapitalisme niet de code, maar de axiomatiek is. De economische wetenschap biedt, volgens hen, mensen geen identiteit aan, maar bestaat uit een reeks commando’s die stromen van geld, arbeid, elektriciteit, enzovoort reguleert. Daaraan koppelt Berardi de observatie dat het hedendaagse kapitalisme vooral tekens verhandelt in plaats (...)
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  18. The End and Rebirth of Nature? From Politics of Nature to Synthetic Biology.Massimiliano Simons - 2016 - Philosophica -- Revista Do Departamento de Filosofia da Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa 47:109-124.
    In this article, two different claims about nature are discussed. On the one hand, environmental philosophy has forced us to reflect on our position within nature. We are not the masters of nature as was claimed before. On the other hand there are the recent developments within synthetic biology. It claims that, now at last, we can be the masters of nature we have never been before. The question is then raised how these two claims must be related to one (...)
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  19.  22
    A Philosophy of First Contact: Stanisław Lem and the Myth of Cognitive Universality.Massimiliano Simons - 2021 - Pro-Fil: An Internet Journal of Philosophy 3 (22):65-77.
    Within science fiction the topic of ‘first contact’ is a popular theme. How will an encounter with aliens unfold? Will we succeed in communicating with them? Although such questions are present in the background of many science fiction novels, they are not always explicitly dealt with and even if so, often in a poor way. In this article, I will introduce a typology of five dominant types of solutions to the problem of first contact in science fiction works. The first (...)
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  20.  4
    The End and Rebirth of Nature? From Politics of Nature to Synthetic Biology.Massimiliano Simons - 2016 - Philosophica 47:109 - 124.
    In this article, two different claims about nature are discussed. On the one hand, environmental philosophy has forced us to reflect on our position within nature. We are not the masters of nature as was claimed before. On the other hand there are the recent developments within synthetic biology. It claims that, now at last, we can be the masters of nature we have never been before. The question is then raised how these two claims must be related to one (...)
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  21.  27
    Een inleiding in de Franse historische epistemologie.Massimiliano Simons & Hannes Van Engeland - 2021 - de Uil van Minerva: Tijdschrift Voor Geschiedenis En Wijsbegeerte van de Cultuur 34 (2):104-118.
    Verrassend misschien voor filosofen buiten Frankrijk, maar in Parijs is wetenschap altijd een object van filosofische reflectie geweest – niet in de vorm van de analytische wetenschapsfilosofie zoals die buiten Frankrijk wordt onderwezen, maar onder de noemer van historische epistemologie, of soms ook wel kortweg épistémologie genoemd. Dit themanummer wil een inleiding zijn op deze traditie in haar denkers.
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  22. Beyond Ideology Althusser, Foucault and French Epistemology.Massimiliano Simons - 2015 - Pulse: A Journal of History, Sociology and Philosophy of Science 3:62-77.
    The philosophy of Louis Althusser is often contrasted with the ideas of Michel Foucault. At first sight, the disagreement seems to be about the concept of ideology: while Althusser seem to be huge advocate of the use of the concept, Foucault apparently dislikes and avoids the concept altogether. However, I argue in this article that this reading is only superficial and that it obscures the real debate between these two authors. Althusser, especially in his recently posthumously published Sur la reproduction (...)
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  23.  5
    The Parliament of Things and the Anthropocene: How to Listen to ‘Quasi-Objects’.Massimiliano Simons - 2017 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 21 (2):150 - 174.
    Among the contemporary philosophers using the concept of the Anthropocene, Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers are prominent examples. The way they use this concept, however, diverts from the most common understanding of the Anthropocene. In fact, their use of this notion is a continuation of their earlier work around the concept of a ‘parliament of things.’ Although mainly seen as a sociology or philosophy of science, their work can be read as philosophy of technology as well. Similar to Latour’s claim (...)
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  24. De nieuwe poortwachters van de waarheid.Massimiliano Simons - 2020 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 1 (82):33-56.
    The central claim of this article is that post-truth requires a political and socio-economical perspective, rather than a moral or epistemological one. The article consists of two parts. The first part offers a critical examination of the dominant analyses of post-truth in terms of shifting standards of the origin and the evaluation of facts. Moreover, the claim that postmodernism is the cause of post-truth is examined and refuted. In the second part an alternative perspective is developed, centring around the notion (...)
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  25.  6
    Technology and Society.Massimiliano Simons, Mauritz Kelchtermans & Lode Lauwaert - 2021 - Philosophy Today 65 (3):459-464.
    It is commonly accepted that technology and society have always been intertwined. The question is rather how we should understand that relation. This introduction to the special issue ‘Technology and Society’ gives a brief overview of the history of the questions related to this intertwinement. The special issue consists of six essays, emanating from presentations at the 2019 conference on Technology and Society at the Institute of Philosophy, KU Leuven. It was organized by the Working Group on Philosophy of Technology, (...)
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  26.  23
    Cyborgs and Biohacking: From Grinders to Synthetic Biology.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    What is ‘biohacking’? In fact, it refers to multiple things. Firstly, it refers to ‘hacking the body’, artificially enhancing one’s own body by technology and tinkering. A good example is the ‘grinder’ movement. Secondly, it also refers to ‘hacking the biology’, aiming to appropriate the methods and objects of the life sciences for our own benefit. This is at work in ‘Do-It-Yourself Biology’, inspired by synthetic biology. Both strands, however, share the same ambition to emancipate ourselves from traditional constraints of (...)
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  27.  27
    The Kuhnian Image of Science: Time for a Decisive Transformation?: Edited by Moti Mizrahi, Lanham, MD, Rowman and Littlefield, 2018, Vi + 224 Pp., ISBN 9781786603401, US$120.00, £80.00. [REVIEW]Massimiliano Simons - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):78-80.
    Review of the book "The Kuhnian Image of Science'.
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  28.  10
    From Citizen Science to DIYbio, or Science Beyond the University?Massimiliano Simons & Winnie Poncelet - unknown
    Do-It-Yourself biology or DIYbio aims to open the field of molecular biology to all who are interested by showing that it can be done within one’s own garage or by opening community labs. In this sense it can be considered as one of the contemporary shapes of citizen or ‘amateur’ science. A great part of the existing literature focuses on how these cases can be seen as the sign of a democratization of science. However, within these studies it is often (...)
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  29.  8
    Michel Serres and French Philosophy of Science: Materiality, Ecology and Quasi-Objects.Massimiliano Simons - 2022 - London: Bloomsbury Academic.
    Massimiliano Simons provides the first systematic study of Serres' work in the context of late 20th-century French philosophy of science. By proposing new readings of Serres' philosophy, Simons creates a synthesis between his predecessors, Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, and Louis Althusser as well as contemporary Francophone philosophers of science such as Bruno Latour and Isabelle Stengers. Simons situates Serres' unique contribution through his notion of the quasi-object, a concept, he argues, organizes great parts of Serres' work into a promising philosophy (...)
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  30.  6
    From Politics of Science to Evidence-Based Activism.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
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  31.  4
    Network.Massimiliano Simons - 2017 - In Joost de Bloois, Stijn De Cauwer & Anneleen Masschelein (eds.), 50 key terms in contemporary cultural theory.
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  32.  4
    Obligation to Judge or Judging Obligations: What Can French Philosophy of Science Offer the History of Biology?Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    This paper aims to evaluate the different approaches to history within contemporary French philosophy of science, especially related to the benefits and necessity of normative judging. Within the French tradition of historical epistemology, there has always been a combination between a historical and philosophical perspective. This has resulted in numerous methodological reflections on this topic still relevant for contemporary debates within IHPS. Generally this centered around the question to what extent clear philosophical starting points where a merit and necessity, or (...)
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  33.  3
    Anthropocene.Massimiliano Simons - 2017 - In Joost de Bloois, Stijn De Cauwer & Anneleen Masschelein (eds.), 50 key terms in contemporary cultural theory.
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  34.  3
    Nature in the Lab: A Philosophical Analysis of Constructivist Claims About the New Life Sciences.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    The starting point of this PhD project is a constructivist interpretation of scientific practices: science does not study independent and pre-given phenomena, but constructs them in an active way. Although this topic has already been argued for in general, this project wants to focus on recent emerging life sciences, such as systems biology, Artificial Life and synthetic biology. These disciplines bring forth an extreme form of this constructivist aspect: they actively and explicitly produce biological phenomena, such as synthetic cells that (...)
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  35.  3
    Épistémologie After Bachelard: Michel Serres and le Nouveau Nouvel Esprit Scientifique.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    The work of Michel Serres, if considered at all, is often presented as a radical break with or criticism of the work of Gaston Bachelard. The aim of this paper is to correct this image, by focusing on the early Hermes series by Serres. In these studies Serres still portrays himself as a follower of Bachelard, rather than an adversary. This is exemplarily shown in his neologism, i.e. the new new scientific spirit, referring to the attempt to update Bachelard in (...)
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  36.  3
    ‘Science Without Scientists’: DIYbiology and Institutional Leakage.Massimiliano Simons & Winnie Poncelet - unknown
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  37.  2
    From Describing to Constructing Nature: The Case of Synthetic Biology.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
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  38.  2
    History From The Inside: Synthetic Biologists as Historians of Science.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    Within French epistemology the question is central whether the present can be a reference point for the history of science or whether scientific practices should be understood within their own historical context. Both positions are linked with problems: either it results in a ‘whig history’ written from the perspective of the victors or it leads to the accusation of relativism and to resistance from the scientists themselves. Isabelle Stengers claims that this resistance by scientists must be considered as an essential (...)
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  39.  2
    How to Listen to Things: ‘Quasi-Objects’ in French Philosophy of Science.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
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  40.  2
    Synthetic Biology as Ready-Made Nature in the Making.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    That scientific practices can be interpreted as constructive practices that create their own objects rather than describing objects out there is a spreading idea within philosophy of science. But while normally the claim is that this is being done behind the scenes, in the case of synthetic biology it seems to be right in the open. To really comprehend what is going within synthetic biology, the idea of constructivism within philosophy must therefore be revised and differentiated in particular types of (...)
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  41.  2
    Synthesizing Nature in the Anthropocene.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    The emerging field of synthetic biology aims to design biological entities by engineering methods. Nature is explicitly no longer something ‘out there’, but instead as whatever is actively made in scientific laboratories. Although apparently unrelated to the Anthropocene, interesting discussions arise once confronted with each other. On the one hand, authors such as Bruno Latour have forced us to reflect on how we are not the masters of nature as was claimed before. We can even speak of ‘the end of (...)
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  42.  2
    The Many Shapes of Constructivism: The Case of Synthetic Biology.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    In recent philosophy of science constructivist perspectives have gained prominence. Science is increasingly seen as ‘technoscience’, meaning that rather than consisting of a mere observation of a passive nature out there, it is argued that science is also always intervening due to the use of scientific instruments and techniques. In this sense, science ‘constructs’ the object it studies, rather than merely observe it. There are, however, different varieties of constructivism that are often confused with one another and are in need (...)
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  43.  2
    The Non-Rationalism of Michel Foucault.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
    Although Michel Foucault is often discussed as a political philosopher, his work can also be place within the tradition of French historical epistemology. However, in contrast to Gaston Bachelard or Georges Canguilhem, his work has been more open to the critique of relativism. The question that will be raised here is in what way one can understand his seemingly relativist conclusions about science, while being part of a science admiring tradition. Different models will be proposed, ranging from a total break, (...)
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  44.  2
    The New Synthesis of Life in the Era of Postcomplex Life Sciences.Massimiliano Simons - unknown
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