Thursday, July 14, 2011

Schmitter, Amy M. Review of Peter Machamer, et al., eds INTERPRETATION. NDPR (July 2011).

Machamer, Peter, and Gereon Wolters, eds.  Interpretation: Ways of Thinking about the Sciences and the Arts.  Pittsburgh: U of Pittsburgh P, 2010.

This wide-ranging collection of essays emerged from what must have been an enjoyably eclectic 2008 meeting of the Pittsburgh-Konstanz Colloquium in the Philosophy of Science, one charged with the double task of honoring Gereon Wolters and of showing off the many arenas where interpretation has a place. Peter Machamer sets the stage in an opening essay, in which he expresses his hope that the anthology will rectify the loss of interpretation as "a hot topic in contemporary philosophy" (p. 14). Machamer is surely right that interpretation occupies an odd place in contemporary philosophy: despite its cognitive significance, it garners little attention in epistemology. But it does constitute a central area of investigation for some stripes of philosophy of language, for hermeneutics, and for philosophy of art and literary criticism. If Machamer, Wolters and their contributors have their way, it should also figure importantly in various areas of the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind and action, and practical aesthetics.

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