What is objectivity? A conversation with Rupert Sheldrake & Mark Vernon

An audio version of this dialogue is available at my podcast, Talks and Thoughts, found on podcast feeds.

Objectivity has come to be regarded as a prime ingredient of reliable knowledge. But what is objectivity, how has it arisen, and is the notion in need of reform? In this episode of the Sheldrake-Vernon Dialogues, Rupert and Mark consider the recent work of the philosopher, Richard Gunton. With colleagues, Richard examines older understandings of objectivity in science and proposes an alternative which is truer to scientific work. In particular, the reductive idea that links objectivity with replication seems increasingly untenable, given the replication crisis in science. Instead, linking objectivity to representation provides a fruitful way forward.

Rupert and Mark consider facets of the history of science, not least the difference between so-called primary and secondary qualities, as well as how science is actually carried out, with the role that imagination and aesthetics bring to innovation and insight. Might a new notion of objectivity be not only good for science but also become part of overcoming modern alienation from the world?

Richard Gunton’s paper is co-authored with Marinus Stafleu and Michael Reiss and is entitled “A General Theory of Objectivity: Contributions from the Reformational Philosophy Tradition.”

For more dialogues between Rupert and Mark see:

Talks with Rupert Sheldrake