A mechanism and its metaphysics: An evolutionary account of the social and conceptual development of science [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Biology and Philosophy 3 (2):123-155 (1988)
The claim that conceptual systems change is a platitude. That our conceptual systems are theory-laden is no less platitudinous. Given evolutionary theory, biologists are led to divide up the living world into genes, organisms, species, etc. in a particular way. No theory-neutral individuation of individuals or partitioning of these individuals into natural kinds is possible. Parallel observations should hold for philosophical theories about scientific theories. In this paper I summarize a theory of scientific change which I set out in considerable detail in a book that I shall publish in the near future. Just as few scientists were willing to entertain the view that species evolve in the absence of a mechanism capable of explaining this change, so philosophers should be just as reticent about accepting a parallel view of conceptual systems in science evolving in the absence of a mechanism to explain this evolution. In this paper I set out such a mechanism. One reason that this task has seemed so formidable in the past is that we have all construed conceptual systems inappropriately. If we are to understand the evolution of conceptual systems in science, we must interpret them as forming lineages related by descent. In my theory, the notion of a family resemblance is taken literally, not metaphorically. In my book, I set out data to show that the mechanism which I propose is actually operative. In this paper, such data is assumed.
|Keywords||conceptual evolution scientific theories selection processes social organization of science|
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Citations of this work BETA
David Sloan Wilson & Elliott Sober (1994). Reintroducing Group Selection to the Human Behavioral Sciences. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (4):585.
Bruce H. Weber & David J. Depew (1996). Natural Selection and Self-Organization. Biology and Philosophy 11 (1):33-65.
Bence Nanay (2011). Popper's Darwinian Analogy. Perspectives on Science 19 (3):337-354.
John S. Wilkins (2008). The Adaptive Landscape of Science. Biology and Philosophy 23 (5):659-671.
Jeffry A. Simpson (1994). Adaptation and Natural Selection: A New Look at Some Old Ideas. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 17 (4):634.
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