Science and the Social Contract in Renouvier

Renouvier criticized Comte’s positivist philosophy of science and proposed a social contract approach for dealing with normative questions in philosophy of science as well as moral philosophy. Renouvier then questioned Kant’s distinction between practical and theoretical reason and argued that judgments concerning epistemic warrant must be freely made in the same way that moral judgments are made. What counts as scientific knowledge depends on a consensus within the scientific community that develops over time through critical inquiry in much the same way that a legitimate contract governing society at large must. But a scientific contract consisting of conventionally held theories and methods depends for its justification on a larger social contract that guarantees freedom of inquiry.
Keywords positivism  Comte  Renouvier
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DOI 10.1086/658370
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Warren Schmaus (2007). Renouvier and the Method of Hypothesis. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 38 (1):132-148.

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