The Dynamics of Scientific Concepts: The Relevance of Epistemic Aims and Values

In Uljana Feest & Friedrich Steinle (eds.), Scientific Concepts and Investigative Practice. de Gruyter. 3--75 (2012)
Abstract
The philosophy of science that grew out of logical positivism construed scientific knowledge in terms of set of interconnected beliefs about the world, such as theories and observation statements. Nowadays science is also conceived of as a dynamic process based on the various practices of individual scientists and the institutional settings of science. Two features particularly influence the dynamics of scientific knowledge: epistemic standards and aims (e.g., assumptions about what issues are currently in need of scientific study and explanation). While scientific beliefs are representations of the world, scientific standards and aims are epistemic values. The relevance of epistemic aims and values for belief change has been previously recognized. My paper makes a similar point for scientific concepts, both by studying how an individual concept changes (in its semantic properties) and by viewing epistemic aims and values tied to individual concepts.
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