Research Seminar-Second Session- Winter 2024

When and Where

Wednesday, March 06, 2024 12:00 pm to 1:30 pm
Victoria College
91 Charles Street West, Toronto, ON M5S 1K7


Delia Gavrus


                                                                                Research Seminars

                                                                                   In-person event

The IHPST research seminars are in-person events centered on discussing recent scholarship in the history/philosophy of science and technology. We read an article in advance, and we discuss it with the author. Invited scholars make a brief presentation to situate the paper in the context of their work.

For a copy of the paper, please write two weeks in advance of a research seminar to Adriana Leviston <>

For questions, write to the organizer, Marga Vicedo:

Professor Delia Gavrus (Department of History, University of Winnipeg) will present  Envisioned Care: The Fraught Emergence of a New Epistemic Virtue in Plant Science


A recent wave of popular science books has drawn attention to the remarkable sensory and communicative capabilities of plants, attributing memory, intelligence and even consciousness to the vegetal world. While these books often cite published, peer-reviewed research in biology, criticism has been fierce, labeling this work misleading and pseudoscientific, and calling for defunding of this research. In this paper, Delia Gavrus and Vivien Hamilton examine the dynamics of this debate, showing that the controversy transcends disagreements about terminology or interpretation of experimental results and goes to the very heart of scientific practice. The dispute is so contentious precisely because it is deeply related to a disagreement about scientific objectivity, and we argue that we are witnessing the vexed emergence and uncertain future of a new epistemic virtue that we are calling envisioned care, a virtue with various iterations ranging from subtle to generous. We trace the ontological, epistemic, and ethical commitments of key scientists involved in the debate to uncover the central characteristics of this new virtue. To practice this virtue, scientists begin knowledge projects with humility, with respect for different kinds of animacy, and with an imperative to take care of the beings they are in relationship with. Scientists who embody this virtue deliberately envision the world as they desire it to be, and then seek the kind of knowledge that might bring this new world into being. This vision of scientific practice appears incommensurable with other intuitions and epistemic virtues that have been more entrenched in the plant science community. Without a strong tradition of centering discussions on deeper philosophical issues within science, such as epistemic values and intuitions, it is likely that the debate will remain unresolved in the near future.

March 6, 12:00 p.m. to 1:30 p.m. VC303

No registration is required

Save the date for the next session: March 27


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