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General Philosophy of Science

Assistant editor: Justin Bzovy (University of Western Ontario)
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  1. added 2014-11-26
    Maureen O'Malley, Ingo Brigandt, Alan C. Love, John W. Crawford, Jack A. Gilbert, Rob Knight, Sandra D. Mitchell & Forest Rohwer (2014). Multilevel Research Strategies and Biological Systems. Philosophy of Science 81:811-828.
    Multilevel research strategies characterize contemporary molecular inquiry into biological systems. We outline conceptual, methodological, and explanatory dimensions of these multilevel strategies in microbial ecology, systems biology, protein research, and developmental biology. This review of emerging lines of inquiry in these fields suggests that multilevel research in molecular life sciences has significant implications for philosophical understandings of explanation, modeling, and representation.
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  2. added 2014-11-23
    Barbara Herrnstein Smith (2009). Review of Steven Shapin, The Scientific Life. [REVIEW] London Review of Books 31 (3):10-12.
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  3. added 2014-11-20
    C. Mantzavinos (forthcoming). Scientific Explanation. In International Encyclopedia of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Elsevier.
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  4. added 2014-11-20
    Hyundeuk Cheon (2014). Meta-Incommensurability Revisited. Theoria. An International Journal for Theory, History and Foundations of Science 80:243-259.
    A popular rejoinder to the potential threat that incommensurability might pose to scientific realism has been the referential response: despite meaning variance, there can be referential continuity, which is sufficient for rational theory choice. This response has been charged with meta-incommensurability, according to which it begs the question by assuming a realist metaphysics. However, realists take it to be a rhetorical device that hinders productive discussion. By reconstructing the debate, this paper aims to demonstrate two things. First, there are unexpected (...)
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  5. added 2014-11-20
    C. Mantzavinos (2013). Explanatory Games. Journal of Philosophy (November 2013).
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  6. added 2014-11-19
    Markus Seidel (forthcoming). Changing Society by Scientific Investigations? The Unexpected Shared Ground Between Early Sociology of Knowledge and the Vienna Circle. Foundations of Science:1-12.
    In this paper, I show that there are important but hitherto unnoticed similarities between key figures of the Vienna Circle and early defenders of sociology of knowledge. The similarities regard their stance on potential implications of the study of science for political and societal issues. I argue that notably Otto Neurath and Karl Mannheim are concerned with proposing a genuine political philosophy of science that is remarkably different from today’s emerging interest in the relation between science and society in philosophy (...)
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  7. added 2014-11-19
    Marie I. Kaiser, Maria Kronfeldner & Robert Meunier (forthcoming). Interdisciplinarity in Philosophy of Science. Journal for General Philosophy of Science:1-12.
    This paper examines various ways in which philosophy of science can be interdisciplinary. It aims to provide a map of relations between philosophy and sciences, some of which are interdisciplinary. Such a map should also inform discussions concerning the question “How much philosophy is there in the philosophy of science?” In Sect. 1, we distinguish between synoptic and collaborative interdisciplinarity. With respect to the latter, we furthermore distinguish between two kinds of reflective forms of collaborative interdisciplinarity. We also briefly explicate (...)
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  8. added 2014-11-17
    Hugh Lacey (forthcoming). Science, Respect for Nature, and Human Well-Being: Democratic Values and the Responsibilities of Scientists Today. Foundations of Science:1-17.
    The central question addressed is: How should scientific research be conducted so as to ensure that nature is respected and the well being of everyone everywhere enhanced? After pointing to the importance of methodological pluralism for an acceptable answer and to obstacles posed by characterizing scientific methodology too narrowly, which are reinforced by the ‘commercial-scientific ethos’, two additional questions are considered: How might research, conducted in this way, have impact on—and depend on—strengthening democratic values and practices? And: What is thereby (...)
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  9. added 2014-11-17
    Sheldon Richmond (2014). Book Review: Why Things Matter to People: Science, Values and Ethical Life. [REVIEW] Philosophy of the Social Sciences 44 (6):837-839.
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  10. added 2014-11-15
    David Ludwig (forthcoming). Indigenous and Scientific Kinds. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
    The aim of this article is to discuss the relation between indigenous and scientific kinds on the basis of contemporary ethnobiological research. I argue that ethnobiological accounts of taxonomic convergence-divergence patters challenge common philosophical models of the relation between folk concepts and natural kinds. Furthermore, I outline a positive model of taxonomic convergence-divergence patterns that is based on Slater's [2014] notion of “stable property clusters” and Franklin-Hall's [2014] discussion of natural kinds as “categorical bottlenecks.” Finally, I argue that this model (...)
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  11. added 2014-11-12
    Pedro Karczmarczyk (2013). La ruptura epsitemológica de Bachelard a Balibar y Pêcheux. Estudios de Epistemología 10:09-33.
    Resumen: En el presente trabajo intentaremos analizar cierta serie o tradi-ción de reflexiones sobre el conocimiento científico que lo caracteri-zan por su discontinuidad en relación al conocimiento ordinario osentido común. El origen de esta serie puede localizarse en la obrade Gaston Bachelard y su peculiar estudio de los actos epistemológicoscon los que se rompe con el pasado en una disciplina científica. Estosactos contrastan con lo que este autor califica como el “mitocontinuista” del empirismo. Esta posición será apropiada porAlthusser y desarrollada (...)
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  12. added 2014-11-11
    Shannon Spaulding (forthcoming). Phenomenology of Social Cognition. Erkenntnis.
    Can phenomenological evidence play a decisive role in accepting or rejecting social cognition theories? Is it the case that a theory of social cognition ought to explain and be empirically supported by our phenomenological experience? There is serious disagreement about the answers to these questions. This paper aims to determine the methodological role of phenomenology in social cognition debates. The following three features are characteristic of evidence capable of playing a substantial methodological role: novelty, reliability, and relevance. I argue that (...)
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  13. added 2014-11-08
    Marion Godman (forthcoming). The Special Science Dilemma and How Culture Solves It. Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
    I argue that there is a tension between the claim that at least some kinds in the special sciences are multiply realized and the claim that the reason kinds are prized by science is that they enter into a variety of different empirical generalizations. Nevertheless, I show that this tension ceases in the case of ‘cultural homologues’–such as specific ideologies, religions, and folk wisdom. I argue that the instances of such special science kinds do have several projectable properties in common (...)
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  14. added 2014-11-07
    C. Turner (forthcoming). Travels Without a Donkey: The Adventures of Bruno Latour. History of the Human Sciences.
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  15. added 2014-11-04
    Michael J. Shaffer (forthcoming). Approximate Truth, Quasi-Factivity and Evidence. Acta Analytica.
    The main question addressed in this paper is whether some false sentences can constitute evidence for the truth of other propositions. In this paper it is argued that there are good reasons to suspect that at least some false propositions can (at least some times) constitute evidence for the truth of certain other contingent propositions. The paper also introduces a novel condition concerning propositions that constitute evidence that explains a ubiquitous evidential practice and it contains a defense of a particular (...)
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  16. added 2014-11-02
    Machiel Keestra (2014). Mirrors of the Soul and Mirrors of the Brain? The Expression of Emotions as the Subject of Art and Science. In Gary Schwartz (ed.), Emotions. Pain and pleasure in Dutch painting of the Golden Age. nai010 publishers. 81-92.
    Is it not surprising that we look with so much pleasure and emotion at works of art that were made thousands of years ago? Works depicting people we do not know, people whose backgrounds are usually a mystery to us, who lived in a very different society and time and who, moreover, have been ‘frozen’ by the artist in a very deliberate pose. It was the Classical Greek philosopher Aristotle who observed in his Poetics that people could apparently be moved (...)
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  17. added 2014-10-31
    Amir Dastmalchian, Islam, Science, and Cognitive-Propositionalism. Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective.
  18. added 2014-10-22
    Michael R. Matthews (ed.) (2014). International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Springer.
    This inaugural handbook documents the distinctive research field that utilizes history and philosophy in investigation of theoretical, curricular and pedagogical issues in the teaching of science and mathematics. It is contributed to by 130 researchers from 30 countries; it provides a logically structured, fully referenced guide to the ways in which science and mathematics education is, informed by the history and philosophy of these disciplines, as well as by the philosophy of education more generally. The first handbook to cover the (...)
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  19. added 2014-10-22
    Roberto Festa (1999). Bayesian Confirmation. In M. C. Galavotti & A. Pagnini (eds.), Experience, Reality, and Scientific Explanation. Kluwer. 55–87.
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  20. added 2014-10-16
    David Ellerman (forthcoming). On Double-Entry Bookkeeping: The Mathematical Treatment. Accounting Education: An International Journal.
    Double-entry bookkeeping (DEB) implicitly uses a specific mathematical construction, the group of differences using pairs of unsigned numbers ("T-accounts"). That construction was only formulated abstractly in mathematics in the 19th century—even though DEB had been used in the business world for over five centuries. Yet the connection between DEB and the group of differences (here called the "Pacioli group") is still largely unknown both in mathematics and accounting. The precise mathematical treatment of DEB allows clarity on certain conceptual questions and (...)
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  21. added 2014-10-14
    Simon Fitzpatrick (forthcoming). Nativism, Empiricism, and Ockham’s Razor. Erkenntnis:1-28.
    This paper discusses the role that appeals to theoretical simplicity (or parsimony) have played in the debate between nativists and empiricists in cognitive science. Both sides have been keen to make use of such appeals in defence of their respective positions about the structure and ontogeny of the human mind. Focusing on the standard simplicity argument employed by empiricist-minded philosophers and cognitive scientists—what I call “the argument for minimal innateness”—I identify various problems with such arguments—in particular, the apparent arbitrariness of (...)
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  22. added 2014-10-09
    Achille C. Varzi (2014). Because. In Anne Reboul (ed.), Mind, Values, and Metaphysics. Philosophical Essays in Honor of Kevin Mulligan, Volume 1. Springer-Verlag. 253–256.
    There is a natural philosophical impulse (and, correspondingly, a great deal of pressure) to always ask for explanations, for example, explanations of why we act as we do. Kevin Mulligan has gone a very long way in disentangling the many different because’s, and the many senses of ‘because’, that tend to clutter our efforts to manage that impulse. This short dialogue is meant as a humble tribute to his work in this area.
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  23. added 2014-10-08
    Horacio Tignanelli & Yann Benétreau-Dupin (2014). Perspectives of History and Philosophy on Teaching Astronomy. In Michael R. Matthews (ed.), International Handbook of Research in History, Philosophy and Science Teaching. Springer. 603-640.
    The didactics of astronomy is a relatively young field with respect to that of other sciences. Historical issues have most often been part of the teaching of astronomy, although that often does not stem from a specific didactics. The teaching of astronomy is often subsumed under that of physics. One can easily consider that, from an educational standpoint, astronomy requires the same mathematical or physical strategies. This approach may be adequate in many cases but cannot stand as a general principle (...)
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  24. added 2014-10-05
    Carlos Zednik (forthcoming). Heuristics, Descriptions and the Scope of Mechanistic Explanation. In P. Braillard & C. Malaterre (eds.), Explanation in Biology. An Enquiry into the Diversity of Explanatory Patterns in the Life Sciences. Springer.
    The philosophical conception of mechanistic explanation is grounded on a limited number of canonical examples. These examples provide an overly narrow view of contemporary scientific practice, because they do not reflect the extent to which the heuristic strategies and descriptive practices that contribute to mechanistic explanation have evolved beyond the well-known methods of decomposition, localization, and pictorial representation. Recent examples from evolutionary robotics and network approaches to biology and neuroscience demonstrate the increasingly important role played by computer simulations and mathematical (...)
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  25. added 2014-10-05
    Jonathan Chimakonam (2012). Introducing African Science: Systematic and Philosophical Approach. Author House.
    (western) science as ethno-science, suggesting it is the local knowledge system of the west but imposed on other cultures (45). Supporting this view Alozie who classified African science into functional, structural and historical (6-19) maintains  ...
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  26. added 2014-10-02
    Leszek Wroński (forthcoming). Reichenbach's Paradise. De Gruyter Open.
    Since its introduction by Hans Reichenbach, many philosophers have claimed to refute the idea – known as the common cause principle – that any surprising correlation between any two factors that do not directly influence one another is due to some common cause. For example, falsity of the principle is frequently inferred from falsifiability of Bell’s inequalities. The author demonstrates, however, that the situation is not so straightforward. There is more than one version of the principle formulated with the use (...)
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  27. added 2014-09-29
    Howard Sankey (2014). Scientific Realism and Basic Common Sense. Kairos 10:11-24.
    This paper considers the relationship between science and common sense. It takes as its point of departure, Eddington’s distinction between the table of physics and the table of common sense, as well as Eddington’s suggestion that science shows common sense to be false. Against the suggestion that science shows common sense to be false, it is argued that there is a form of common sense, basic common sense, which is not typically overthrown by scientific research. Such basic common sense is (...)
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  28. added 2014-09-28
    Timothy Perrine (forthcoming). Undermining Truthmaker Theory. Synthese:1-16.
    Truthmaker theorists hold that there is a metaphysically explanatory relation that holds between true claims and what exists. While some critics (e.g. Merricks 2007) try to provide counterexamples to truthmaker theory, that response quickly leads to a dialectical standoff. The aim of this paper is to move beyond that standoff by attempting to undermine some standard arguments for truthmaker theory. Using realism about truth and a more pragmatic account of explanation, I show how some of those arguments can be undermined.
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  29. added 2014-09-28
    Seungbae Park (2014). The Doxastic Requirement of Scientific Explanation and Understanding. Prolegomena 13 (2):279-290.
    Van Fraassen (1980) and Winther (2009) claim that we can explain phenomena in terms of scientific theories without believing that they are true. I argue that we ought to believe that they are true in order to use them to explain and understand phenomena. A scientific antirealist who believes that scientific theories are merely empirically adequate cannot use them to explain or to understand phenomena. The mere belief that they are empirically adequate produces neither explanation nor understanding of phenomena. Explanation (...)
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  30. added 2014-09-25
    Spencer Phillips Hey (forthcoming). Heuristics and Meta-Heuristics in Scientific Judgment. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 2015.
    Despite the increasing recognition that heuristics may be involved in myriad scientific activities, much about how to use them prudently remains obscure. As typically defined, heuristics are efficient rules or procedures for converting complex problems into simpler ones. But this increased efficiency and problem-solving comes at the cost of a systematic bias. As Wimsatt (1980, 2007) showed, biased modeling heuristics can conceal errors, leading to poor decisions or inaccurate models. This liability to produce errors presents a fundamental challenge to the (...)
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  31. added 2014-09-25
    Spencer Phillips Hey (forthcoming). Theory Testing and Implication in Clinical Trials. Philosophy of Science 2014.
    John Worrall (2010) and Nancy Cartwright (2011) argue that randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are "testing the wrong theory." RCTs are designed to test inferences about the causal relationships in the study population, but this does not guarantee a justified inference about the causal relationships in the more diverse population in clinical practice. In this essay, I argue that the epistemology of theory testing in trials is more complicated than either Worrall's or Cartwright's accounts suggest. I illustrate this more complex theoretical (...)
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  32. added 2014-09-25
    Spencer Phillips Hey (forthcoming). Robust and Discordant Evidence: Methodological Lessons From Clinical Research. Philosophy of Science 2014.
    The concordance of results that are “robust” across multiple scientific modalities is widely considered to play a critical role in the epistemology of science. But what should we make of those cases where such multi-modal evidence is discordant? Stegenga (2012) has recently argued that robustness is “worse than useless” in these cases, and suggests that “different kinds of evidence cannot be combined in a coherent way.” In this essay, I respond to this critique and illustrate the critical methodological role that (...)
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  33. added 2014-09-25
    Spencer Phillips Hey (2014). Ethics and Epistemology of Accurate Prediction in Clinical Research. Journal of Medical Ethics 10:1-4.
    All major research ethics policies assert that the ethical review of clinical trial protocols should include a systematic assessment of risks and benefits. But despite this policy, protocols do not typically contain explicit probability statements about the likely risks or benefits involved in the proposed research. In this essay, I articulate a range of ethical and epistemic advantages that explicit forecasting would offer to the health research enterprise. I then consider how some particular confidence levels may come into conflict with (...)
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  34. added 2014-09-24
    Alexander Gebharter, Addendum to "A Formal Framework for Representing Mechanisms?&Quot;.
    In (Gebharter 2014) I suggested a framework for modeling the hierarchical organization of mechanisms. In this short addendum I want to highlight some connections of my approach to the statistics and machine learning literature and some of its limitations not mentioned in the paper.
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  35. added 2014-09-24
    Nicholas Maxwell (2014). Global Philosophy: What Philosophy Ought to Be. Imprint Academic.
    These essays are about education, learning, rational inquiry, philosophy, science studies, problem solving, academic inquiry, global problems, wisdom and, above all, the urgent need for an academic revolution. Despite this range and diversity of topics, there is a common underlying theme. Education ought to be devoted, much more than it is, to the exploration real-life, open problems; it ought not to be restricted to learning up solutions to already solved problems - especially if nothing is said about the problems that (...)
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  36. added 2014-09-24
    Nicholas Maxwell (2014). Global Philosophy: What Philosophy Ought to Be. Imprint Academic.
    These essays are about education, learning, rational inquiry, philosophy, science studies, problem solving, academic inquiry, global problems, wisdom and, above all, the urgent need for an academic revolution. Despite this range and diversity of topics, there is a common underlying theme. Education ought to be devoted, much more than it is, to the exploration real-life, open problems; it ought not to be restricted to learning up solutions to already solved problems - especially if nothing is said about the problems that (...)
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  37. added 2014-09-19
    H. G. Callaway (2014). Arthur S. Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World, An Annotated Edition. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
    Arthur S. Eddington, FRS, (1882–1944) was one of the most prominent British scientists of his time. He made major contributions to astrophysics and to the broader understanding of the revolutionary theories of relativity and quantum mechanics. He is famed for his astronomical observations of 1919, confirming Einstein’s prediction of the curving of the paths of starlight, and he was the first major interpreter of Einstein’s physics to the English-speaking world. His 1928 book, The Nature of the Physical World, here re-issued (...)
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  38. added 2014-09-19
    Jamin Asay (2007). Truth in Constructive Empiricism. Dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
    Constructive empiricism, the scientific anti-realism championed by Bas van Fraassen, claims to offer an adequate reconstruction of the aim and practice of scientific inquiry without adopting the inflationary metaphysical excesses of scientific realism. In articulating the positions of the realist and the empiricist, van Fraassen freely makes use of the concept of truth. Theories of truth come in a variety of flavors, some more metaphysically stark than others. Deflationary theories of truth, for instance, boast of the ability to offer a (...)
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  39. added 2014-09-17
    Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (forthcoming). The Structure of Scientific Theories. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Scientific inquiry has led to immense explanatory and technological successes, partly as a result of the pervasiveness of scientific theories. Relativity theory, evolutionary theory, and plate tectonics were, and continue to be, wildly successful families of theories within physics, biology, and geology. Other powerful theory clusters inhabit comparatively recent disciplines such as cognitive science, climate science, molecular biology, microeconomics, and Geographic Information Science (GIS). Effective scientific theories magnify understanding, help supply legitimate explanations, and assist in formulating predictions. Moving from their (...)
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  40. added 2014-09-16
    Marcin Miłkowski (2013). Reverse-Engineering in Cognitive-Science. In Marcin Miłkowski & Konrad Talmont-Kaminski (eds.), Regarding the Mind, Naturally: Naturalist Approaches to the Sciences of the Mental. Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 12-29.
    I discuss whether there are some lessons for philosophical inquiry over the nature of simulation to be learnt from the practical methodology of reengineering. I will argue that reengineering serves a similar purpose as simulations in theoretical science such as computational neuroscience or neurorobotics, and that the procedures and heuristics of reengineering help to develop solutions to outstanding problems of simulation.
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  41. added 2014-09-15
    Sara Giordano (2014). Scientific Reforms, Feminist Interventions, and the Politics of Knowing: An Auto‐Ethnography of a Feminist Neuroscientist. Hypatia 29 (4):755-773.
    Feminist science studies scholars have documented the historical and cultural contingency of scientific knowledge production. It follows that political and social activism has impacted the practice of science today; however, little has been done to examine the current cultures of science in light of feminist critiques and activism. In this article, I argue that, although critiques have changed the cultures of science both directly and indirectly, fundamental epistemological questions have largely been ignored and neutralized through these policy reforms. I provide (...)
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  42. added 2014-09-15
    S. Yanase (1987). The Challenge of Spiritual Values to Science and Technology. Dialectics and Humanism 14 (3):13-20.
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  43. added 2014-09-15
    S. J. Nebres (1987). Science, Technology and Spiritual Values. Dialectics and Humanism 14 (3):71-78.
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  44. added 2014-09-07
    Arnon Keren, Science and Informed, Counterfactual, Democratic Consent.
    On many science-related policy questions, the public is unable to make informed decisions, because of its inability to make use of knowledge and information obtained by scientists. Philip Kitcher and James Fishkin have both suggested therefore that on certain science-related issues, public policy should not be decided upon by actual democratic vote, but should instead conform to the public's Counterfactual Informed Democratic Decision (CIDD). Indeed, this suggestion underlies Kitcher's specification of an ideal of a well-ordered science. The paper argues that (...)
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  45. added 2014-09-06
    Gregor Betz (2013). Chaos, Plurality and Model Metrics in Climate Science. In Ulrich V. Gähde & Stephan Hartmann (eds.), Models, Simulation, and the Reduction of Complexity. de Gruyter. 255-264.
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  46. added 2014-09-05
    Jamin Asay & S. Seth Bordner (forthcoming). A Modest Defense of Manifestationalism. Synthese:1-15.
    As the debate between realists and empiricists in the philosophy of science drags on, one point of consensus has emerged: no one wants to be a manifestationalist. The manifestationalist is a kind of radical empiricist who argues that science provides theories that aim neither at a true picture of the entire world, nor even an empirically adequate picture that captures the world in all its observable respects. For manifestationalists, science aims only at providing theories that are true to the observed (...)
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  47. added 2014-09-04
    John Horden (forthcoming). Devious Stipulations. Oxford Studies in Metaphysics.
    Recent attempts to answer ontological questions through conceptual analysis have been controversial. Nonetheless, contemporary metaphysicians mostly agree that if the existence of certain things analytically follows from sentences we already accept, then there is no further ontological commitment involved in affirming the existence of those things. More generally, it is plausible that whenever a sentence analytically entails another, the conjunction of those sentences requires nothing more of the world for its truth than the former sentence alone. In his ‘Analyticity and (...)
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