Metaphysics between the sciences and philosophies of science
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In P. D. Magnus & Jacob Busch (eds.), New Waves in Philosophy of Science. Palgrave Macmillan (2010)
Subsequent to the transition from the era of natural philosophy to what we now regard as the era of the modern sciences, the latter have often been described as independent of the major philosophical preoccupations that previously informed theorizing about the natural world. The extent to which this is a naïve description is a matter of debate, and in particular, views of the place of metaphysics in the interpretation of modern scientific knowledge have varied enormously. Logical positivism spawned a distaste for metaphysics in the philosophy of science which lasts to this day, but in recent years, a renaissance in analytic metaphysics has been embraced by a growing number of philosophers of science. Those moved by distaste commonly subscribe either to a minimalist Humean metaphysic, or to a quietism about metaphysical questions generally. Those moved by attraction contend that metaphysical investigations into the natures of things like properties, causation, laws, and modality, are required in order to interpret descriptions of the world furnished by our best scientific theories. I consider the presuppositions separating these contemporary approaches to the philosophy of science, and the prospect of their resolution.
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