Jamie Shaw

Doctoral Student

Department of Philosophy

Research Area:
Philosophy of Science
Normative Epistemology
Ancient Philosophy


Jamie Shaw is a PhD student in the philosophy department at Western. His interests are broad, but have recently focused primarily on issues of scientific pluralism, methodology, and the rationality of science. This involves focusing on how having pluralities of theories, methodologies, ontologies, or perspectives can advance scientific research. He also has a number of side interests which include the relationship between the history of science and philosophy of science, the realism/anti-realism debates, skepticism, and science and values. The point of all these discussions is to find out ways of improving scientific practices to make them more epistemically comprehensive and attentive to the welfare and happiness of those who can benefit from scientific knowledge.


My Master’s thesis focused primarily on the many ways one can formulate Laudan’s ‘pessimistic meta-induction’ and its implications for funding cutting-edge scientific research. Specifically, I argue that the PMI can be used to defeat any meta-scientific position which entails a particular kind of fallibilism for accepting philosophical views about science. I then used the case study of the Human Brain Project and showed how historical inductions could help resolve disputes between neuroscientists and computer scientists about the potential fruitfulness of particular research programs.

My Doctoral thesis is roughly divided into three sections: reconstructing Paul Feyerabend’s views on methodological pluralism, providing a critical evaluation of these views, and comparing them to contemporary formulations of pluralism (specifically integrative pluralism and many theses within the disunity of science movement). I argue that pluralism, of a Feyerabendian kind, should be construed as a commitment to proliferation (or the view that we should invent and elaborate alternative methods and theories to ‘mainstream’ ones) and tenacity (retaining theories and methods despite internal contradictions and empirical problems). This view radically contrasts with contemporary views and suggests and entirely different justification of pluralism and a different role for philosophers of science.

I am have a number of side interests including environmental philosophy (cf. Geo-functions project), philosophy of psychiatry (the relationship between treatment and knowledge), ancient philosophy (pre-Socratic cosmology and Stoic ethics), and the history and philosophy of physics (the role of speculative metaphysics in Galileo and Einstein).

MA Thesis: “Explaining and Evaluating the Success of Science: A Historical Perspective.” Sept. 2014. Queen’s University (supervised by Sergio Sismondo).

Book Chapters

Desjardins, E., Barker, G., Shaw, J., Bzovy, J. (forthcoming in 2017). “Geofunctions, Pluralism, and Adaptive Management”, From the North of 49: New Perspectives in Canadian Environmental Philosophy. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press.


Shaw, Jamie. (2016). “Pluralism as a Means of Organizing Research: How Funding Structures Can Combat Disciplinary Fragmentation.” Western Journal of Graduate Research, 13:11-17.

Shaw, Jamie. (2016). “Pluralism, Pragmatism and Functional Explanations.” Kairos: Journal of Philosophy of Science, 15: 1-18.

Shaw, Jamie. (2015). “Moderate Moderation: The Mean of Excess.” Gnosis, 14.1: 34-47.

Book Reviews

Shaw, Jamie. (2016). “Review of Quantum Ontology.” Dialogue, pp. 1-3.

Shaw, Jamie. (2016) “Metaontology After Ontology After Carnap.” Phenomenological Reviews.

Shaw, Jamie. (2015). “Review of Mach, James and Russell: Neutral Monism Reconceived.” Dialogue, pp. 1-3.

Conference Presentations:


“A Tale of Two Pluralisms: Why Science Needs Metaphysics”.The Philosophy of Science Association Biannual Conference. Atlanta, Georgia, USA.  Nov 3rd, 2016.

“The Search for Kuhn-Loss: A New Strategy for HPS.” British Society for Philosophy of Science Annual Meeting. Cardiff, Wales, U.K. July 7th, 2016.

“The Search for Kuhn-Loss: A New Strategy for HPS.” HOPOS: 11th International Congress. Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.  June 22nd, 2016.

“The Search for Kuhn-Loss: A New Strategy for HPS.” Society for Philosophy of Science and Practice 2016 Conference. Glassboro, New Jersey, USA. June 19th, 2016.

“The Search for Kuhn-Loss: A New Strategy for HPS.” Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science. Calgary, Alberta, Canada. May 29th, 2016.

“Pluralism as a Means of Organizing Research.” 2016 Western Research Forum: Advances At A Crossroads. London, Ontario, Canada. March 4th, 2016.

“Seeing through the Blind Spots: Theory-Ladenness and Pluralism in an Experimental Context.” Ways of Knowing: Feminist Philosophy of Science and Epistemology. Dublin, Ireland. Nov 27th, 2015.

“A Tale of Two Pluralisms: Why Science Needs Metaphysics.” Canadian Philosophical Association, General Congress. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. May 31st, 2015.


“On the Link Between Experience and Judgment” by Ting Fung Ho. Philosophy of Mind, Language and Cognitive Science Graduate Conference. May 20th, 2016.

“Indexicality without Indexicals” by Pengbo Liu. Philosophy of Mind, Language and Cognitive Science Graduate Conference. May 23rd, 2015.

Geo-Functions Project

The basic goal of the geo-functions project is to better understand what implications taking the interconnectedness of earth systems seriously has for policy, methodology, and collaboration. This involves having both an epistemological framework for understanding how diverse disciplinary data relate to each other and co-evolve and a framework of values for determining the role of stakeholders, experts, and elected officials play in coordinating scientific research and policy.

University of Western Ontario:

Phil 1030G: Big Ideas (Teaching Assistant). Prof Robert DiSalle, Jan.-April. 2016.

Phil 1030F: Big Ideas (Teaching Assistant). Prof Eric Desjardins, Sept.-Dec. 2015.

Phil 2078G: Digital Ethics (Grader). Prof Samantha Brennan, Jan.-April. 2015.

Phil 2730F: Media Ethics (Grader). Dr. Ryan Robb, Sept.-Dec. 2014.

Queen’s University:

PHIL 157: Introduction to Moral Issues (Teaching Assistant). Prof Paul Fairfield, Jan.-April. 2014.

PHIL 293: Humans and the Natural World (Teaching Assistant). Prof. Mick Smith, Sept.-Dec. 2013.