PoS Seminar 28.2.22 with Chiara Lisciandra

At the next Perspectives on Science seminar on Monday 28.2., Chiara Lisciandra (University of Groningen) will give a presentation titled “Explanatory norms and interdisciplinary collaboration”. The seminar takes place in Zoom from 14:15 to 15:45.

Perspectives on Science is a weekly research seminar which brings together experts from science studies and philosophy of science. It is organized by TINT – Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. More information about the seminar here.

To join the seminar, please sign up here.


This paper contributes resources from the philosophy of science to identify differences between explanatory norms across disciplines and how such differences affect interdisciplinary collaboration. Explanatory norms are the implicit and explicit rules that govern what scientists consider to be explanatory sound. Examples are generality, tractability, precision, etc. Explanatory norms are domain-specific insofar as certain domains tend to praise some norms over others, for instance a domain may favour tractability over generality; and even when different domains endorse the same explanatory norm, such as generality, they may have different standards for what counts as an adequate level of compliance with that norm (Marchionni 2013; Woody 2003). The body of literature on explanatory norms is rapidly growing. However, there is still no consensus on a theoretical framework that allows us to compare norms across disciplines in a systematic manner. To provide such a framework, this paper builds on the work on dimensions of explanatory power by Ylikoski and Kuorikoski (2010). The theoretical framework is then used i) to measure distance between explanatory norms; and ii), to predict patterns of collaborative work accordingly. By pursuing these goals, this work promises to be theoretically significant and practically relevant. It contributes to the work on domain-specific explanatory norms; and provides recommendations for science-policy assessment of collaborative science. This way, it shows the importance of grounding the design of institutional factors in history and philosophy of science work.


– Ylikoski, P., & Kuorikoski, J. (2010). Dissecting explanatory power. Philosophical studies, 148(2), 201-219.
– Marchionni, C. (2013). Playing with networks: how economists explain. European Journal for Philosophy of Science, 3(3), 331-352.
– Woody, A. (2003). On explanatory practice and disciplinary identity. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 988(1), 22-29.

Author bio:

Chiara Lisciandra is currently Assistant Professor at the University of Groningen. She is about to take a position as Humboldt Experienced Researcher at the University of Munich. One of her current projects is on norms in science, in particular on how scientists combine their explanatory norms across domains and how this affects model transfer. Chiara’s website is www.chiaralisciandra.com