Research Notes: what would an anti–humanist conception of science be like?
Key features of scientific activity that are commonly thought of as being essentially human are:
- Attending to certain phenomena to be observed, quantified, classified, manipulated;
- Collecting and isolating phenomena into experimental arrangements;
- Postulating connections between phenomena as models of reality;
- Hypothesing and seeking the existence of objects not represented by presented phenomena;
- Prioritising and valuing certain instances of the above over other instances;
- Planning the execution of all of the above.
I don't think it is implausible that these activities could occur without human involvement. Note that an anti-humanist does not need to demonstrate that a single clearly individuated intelligence, a robot scientist, need be responsible for all of these activities. It is just as valid, and perhaps more realistic, to argue that some of them are carried out by widely dispersed agencies (networks, environments, ecologies).
An anti-humanist conception of science is certainly plausible. To prove the point, do we need to point to an activity that includes all of the above processes, but without human intervention? Or perhaps it is enough just to show that each of these processes could be carried out by a non-human agency?