“Practice-Oriented Controversies and Borrowed Epistemic Credibility in Current Evolutionary Biology: Phylogeography as a Case Study
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Methodological controversies are an important but often neglected issue in the philosophy of science. Because experimental results often cannot settle controversies, other elements must be incorporated to debates. We introduce the notion of borrowed epistemic credibility to better understand the role that non-empirical elements play in such controversies, illustrating our proposal with a recent controversy in phylogeography. Our analysis shows how scientific controversies that spring from disagreements about methodological issues potentially involve deeper debates regarding what constitutes ‘good science’ in general, and suggests the reexamination of more general issues, such as the nature of inference, rationality, or objectivity.