Toward a virtue account of science
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This dissertation argues for a virtue account of science in which foundational scientific goals are achieved by scientists' employment of virtuous tools and practices. Chapter 1 discusses contemporary literature on the nature and success of biology, especially the realism/antirealism debate within biology. This chapter also provides background into the debate surrounding explanation and understanding. Chapter 2 challenges the idea that successful biology requires appeals to laws of nature by arguing that some foundational scientific goals best realized by unlawful tools and practices. This result provides a criterion for determining whether a discipline is more scientific than another another; disciplines are more or less scientific to the extent that they are able to achieve foundational scientific goals. Chapter 3 examines a test case for the result in Chapter 2 by analyzing McShea and Brandon's  Zero Force Evolutionary Law (ZFEL). I show that the ZFEL's failure as a law does not impact its usefulness to scientists, who are able to use the ZFEL to achieve a number of important, foundational goals. Chapter 4 provides a strategy for determining foundational scientific goals by examining the debate surrounding the relationship between understanding and explanation. By analyzing Khalifa's [2013a] Explanatory Knowledge Model of Understanding, I demonstrate that understanding is not a species of explanation and is thus a foundational scientific goal. It is a goal that scientists aim at, has intrinsic benefit, and is not reducible to other scientific goals. Finally, Chapter 5 presents an outline of the virtue account. On this account, science is successful to the extent it regularly achieves foundational scientific goals. Science does so by employing virtuous tools and practices--those tools and practices that regularly allow for the achievement of foundational goals. The chapter concludes by examining several benefits of this view and considering future avenues for research.
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