Michael O’Rourke, lead investigator on the Toolbox Project out of the University of Idaho, recently discussed his work with Graham Hubbs, also from UI, on the blog Philosophy TV, where two philosophers video chat on issues ranging from modern epistemology to modern political liberalism.
O’Rourke describes the Toolbox Project as a means of overcoming the communication difficulties involved in large-scale interdisciplinary collaborations. Researchers, for example, may be using the same language to discuss a research problem, and yet mean very different things depending upon their own unique disciplinary training.
Collaborators are presented with “essentially a few sheets of paper… with philosophical statements designed to get at joints in one’s research worldview. The point of putting these statements on paper is that you can then put that paper in front of collaborators, have them read through it, react to it, and then talk about it. Through the course of discussion [participants can then] effectively give an articulation of how they see their scientific [sic] landscape.”