Michele Luchetti

Year of Enrollment: 

My PhD dissertation engages with the topic of constitutive principles in science. Different traditions in the history of philosophy of science – such as neo-Kantianism, logical empiricism, and pragmatism – identified certain components of science as being somehow “constitutive” of scientific knowledge. This means, these components provide certain conditions for the identification of the objects of scientific inquiry without being themselves derived from experience in any straightforward sense. More specifically, these elements allow the ‘coordination’ of the abstract conceptual structures deployed in scientific activities with the concrete phenomena that these structures are supposed to represent. Historically, this notion is understood as a development of the Kantian notion of “a priori”, but relativised to scientific languages, theories, conceptual frameworks, or systems of practice.

In my dissertation, I offer a novel perspective on constitutive principles in science. I critically examine this notion by reviewing the contemporary literature discussing it and develop my own framework of analysis, which I then use to assess a number of historical case studies from physics and biology. I investigate the issue of coordination between abstract structures and concrete phenomena across many epistemic dimensions (theories, models, measurement, scientific instruments), and my novel understanding of constitutive components within coordination processes allows fruitful analyses of historical case studies while, at the same time, taking on board the lesson from the recent practice turn in philosophy of science. Eventually, I individuate (at least) three different classes of constitutive components in scientific inquiry: theory-relative theoretical principles, domain-general assumptions for epistemic activities, and material conditions.

My work is driven by the desire to understand how the process and the product of scientific activities is not only shaped, but inextricably tied with certain human practices and representative tools. I believe in the necessity to integrate the history and the philosophy of science, and I am fascinated by anthropological and sociological insights in understanding how we manipulate and interact with the world in order to understand it and ourselves. I mainly work in the tradition of HPS and in general philosophy of science, but I have various specific interests, which include conceptual issues in biology, practices of measurement, the emergence of statistical reasoning, issues in philosophy of psychiatry, and the role of symbolic processes.

Apart from philosophy, I am very fond of theatre. I approached this art at high school in an independent collective of students, and by the time I came to Budapest I had carried out acting and directing schools and staged different plays. I am currently delving in the tradition of the theatre laboratorium (Grotowski, Odin Teatret) as a practice of collective research, learning and creative action which can bring personal and social awareness and transformation.


2013 MA Philosophy, University of Milan
2011 BA Philosophy, University of Milan


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