I could have added this to Gabriele's posting ("Are General Philosophers of Science Becoming an Endangered Species?" 11-2-09), but this way I can say hello to the group and thank Gabriele for inviting me to the blog.
First, I agree with Ed Machery (and Mohan Matthen) that much terrific general philosophy of science is conducted within or is an important byproduct from philosophy of a particular science. (My favorite examples are besides Craver, Bill Wimsatt's work.) I would add to this also history of science (see Howard Stein and George Smith, etc) and history of philosophy of science (Michael Friedman, Alan Richardson, etc).
Second, Ed and Mohan are a bit too quick in dismissing Gabriele's general concern. For one cannot deny that general philosophy of science lacks a certain urgency. (For example, see the fate of some of its leading lights: Michael Friedman's turn to history; Bas van Fraassen's turn to existentialism and religion; Kitcher's turn to public policy of science and opera.) This lack of urgency contrasts with three distinct earlier episodes. I) In the half-century aftermath of the publication of Newton's principia, there was a general debate about its metaphysics, methodology, and epistemology. The debate was between those that argued that philosophy could *limit itself* to a mathematical-empirical approach (Galileo, Newton, Cotes, MacLaurin) and those that thought that reason required a more general foundation (in our ideas, in principle of sufficient reason, in some bed-rock certainty, etc--think Descartes, Leibniz, Berkeley, Hume of the Treatise). II) A second serious debate occured in the wake of Kant's success in forestalling and transforming the crisis within philosophy. This discussion was most intense in Britain where in the wake of the developing professionalization of science, philosophers discussed the methodology of science (Whewell, Jones, Mill, but also Maxwell and Peirce, Mach, Comte, etc). This was still the domain of general philosophy (and science) III) Professional philosophy of science (with its own journals and professionals) was born around the turn of the twentieth century. It arose from debates within neo-Kantianism in which epistemology was the first science. In this climate the philosophy of science had a very crucial purpose: if the results of science are the ideal of rationality then philosophy of science is the core of the first science (epistemology or in its Carnapian guise, the logic of science). This project intensified after the shock of the Einsteinian revolution. (It probably died somewhere early in the cold war.) If my potted history is accurate then Mohan's snap-shot of mid 20th century of science is an example of what happens to a research project that 'forgets' its own animating questions and becomes a problem-solving 'science' (with journals, conferences, fashions) that has a 'history' of circa 20 years (and, given the high barriers of entry to particular philosophy of science, can become, thus, unattractive to newcomers).
Third, this also suggests why Robert Northcott's creative proposal (philosophy of science as a bridge between M&E and particular philosophy of sciences [it reminds one of Neurath's and Carnap's project for unified language of science]) is doomed to fail. 'Our' leading M&E projects (derived from the work of David Lewis) appear designed (despite the language of naturalism, materialism, etc) to avoid 'contact' with science at all cost. Our services are not wanted!
Fourth, if I am correct, then general philosophy of science can only become animated if either contemporary M&E (or ethics, etc) has a need for it or if some general philosopher of science writes such impressive works of philosophy that can attract attention of discipline as a whiole.