Thus far, the philosophical study of patenting has primarily focused on sociopolitical, legal, and ethical issues, such as the moral justifiability of patenting living organisms or the nature of (intellectual) property. In addition, however, the theory and practice of patenting entails many important problems that can be fruitfully studied from the perspective of the philosophy of science and technology. The principal aim of this article is to substantiate the latter claim. For this purpose, I first provide a concise review of (...) the main features of the theory and practice of the patenting of scientific and technological inventions. Second, I discuss several philosophical issues implied by these features and explore the possible contributions of the philosophy of science and technology to the clarification, or resolution, of these issues. The seven features discussed are: patents as commercial monopolies on scientific and technological inventions, the contrast between natural and non-natural subject matter, the distinction between inventions and discoveries, the reproducibility of inventions, the question of the sameness of two inventions, the distinction between the invented and the protected object, and the contrast between material objects versus concepts and theories. The article concludes with some observations on the problems and prospects of the philosophical study of the theory and practice of patenting scientific and technological inventions. (shrink)
This paper proposes a framework for a critical philosophy of technology by discussing its practical, theoretical, empirical, normative and political dimensions. I put forward a general account of technology, which includes both similarities and dissimilarities to Andrew Feenberg's instrumentalization theory. This account characterizes a technology as a "(type of) artefactual, functional system with a certain degree of stability and reproducibility". A discussion of how such technologies may be realized discloses five different levels at which alternative choices might be made. On (...) this basis, I argue that a critical philosophy of technology should analyse and assess the choices that have, and have not, been made in actual practice, and contribute to social experiments that aim at more democratic and more desirable alternatives. (shrink)
Developments in biotechnology and genomics have moved the issue of patenting scientific and technological inventions toward the center of interest. In particular, the patentability of genes of plants, animals, or humans and of genetically modified (parts of) living organisms has been discussed, and questioned, from various normative perspectives. This paper aims to contribute to this debate. For this purpose, it first explains a number of relevant aspects of the theory and practice of patenting. The focus is on a special and (...) increasingly significant type of patents, namely product patents. The paper provides three general arguments against the concept and practice of product patenting. The first argument briefly considers the claim that patents are legitimate because they promote socially useful innovation. Against this claim, it is argued that product patents may hamper rather than promote such innovation. The second and main argument concludes that product patents are not adequately based on actual technological inventions, as they should be according to the usual criteria of patentability. The principal moral issue is that product patents tend to reward patentees for inventions they have not really made available. The final argument proposes a method for patenting the heat of the sun. Assuming that granting this patent will be generally considered absurd, the argument exposes a further, fundamental problem of the concept and practice of product patenting. (shrink)
In his influential book, "Changing Order", H.M. Collins puts forward the following three claims concerning experimental replication. (i) Replication is rarely practiced by experimentalists; (ii) replication cannot be used as an objective test of scientific knowledge claims, because of the occurrence of the so-called experimenters' regress; and (iii) stopping this regress at some point depends upon the enculturation in a local community of practitioners, who tacitly learn the relevant skills. In my paper I discuss and assess these claims on the (...) basis of a more comprehensive analysis of experimentation and experimental reproducibility. The main point is that Collins' claims are not, strictly speaking, wrong, but rather too one-sided and therefore inadequate. This point also calls for a reconsideration of the radical (social constructivist) conclusions that Collins has drawn from his studies of scientific experimentation. (shrink)
Several philosophers of science have claimed that the correspondence principle can be generalized from quantum physics to all of (particularly physical) science and that in fact it constitutes one of the major heuristical rules for the construction of new theories. In order to evaluate these claims, first the use of the correspondence principle in (the genesis of) quantum mechanics will be examined in detail. It is concluded from this and from other examples in the history of science that the principle (...) should be qualified with respect to its nature and relativized with respect to its scope of application. At the same time this conclusion implies a qualification and a relativization of the heuristic power of the principle. Generally speaking, intertheoretical correspondence is primarily of a formal-mathematical and empirical but not of a conceptual nature. Moreover, it only applies to certain parts of the theories involved. Finally, a number of philosophical justifications of the principle are discussed and some conclusions are drawn concerning the debates on theory reduction and on the discovery-justification distinction. (shrink)
In this paper we investigate Accardi's claim that the "quantum paradoxes" have their roots in probability theory and that, in particular, they can be evaded by giving up Bayes' rule, concerning the relation between composite and conditional probabilities. We reach the conclusion that, although it may be possible to give up Bayes' rule and define conditional probabilities differently, this contributes nothing to solving the philosophical problems which surround quantum mechanics.
Summary This paper presents an immanent criticism of Lakatos' reconstruction of the degenerating phase of Bohr's atomic theory. That is to say, the historiographical methods used are exclusively of a Lakatosian kind. Such a closer Lakatosian look at the historical episode in question shows that Lakatos' own reconstruction is incorrect on three essential points. These are the role of the correspondence principle, the position of the hard core in Bohr's programme, and the presence of important novel predicted facts. I conclude (...) that these defects are irreparable within the framework of Lakatos' methodology of scientific research programmes. (shrink)