Objectivity in historical perspective Content Type Journal Article Category Book Symposium Pages 11-39 DOI 10.1007/s11016-011-9597-2 Authors Peter Dear, Department of History, Cornell University, 435 McGraw Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA Ian Hacking, Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, 170 St. George St., Toronto, ON M5R 2M8, Canada Matthew L. Jones, Department of History, Columbia University, 514 Fayerweather Hall, 1180 Amsterdam Ave., New York, NY 10027, USA Lorraine Daston, Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Boltzmannstraße 22, 14195 Berlin, Germany (...) Peter Galison, Department of the History of Science, Harvard University, Science Center 371, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA Journal Metascience Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 21 Journal Issue Volume 21, Number 1. (shrink)
Mathematics plays an inordinate role in the work of many of famous Western philosophers, from the time of Plato, through Husserl and Wittgenstein, and even to the present. Why? This paper points to the experience of learning or making mathematics, with an emphasis on proof. It distinguishes two sources of the perennial impact of mathematics on philosophy. They are classified as Ancient and Enlightenment. Plato is emblematic of the former, and Kant of the latter. The Ancient fascination arises from the (...) sense that mathematics explores something ‘out there’. This is illustrated by recent discussions by distinguished contemporary mathematicians. The Enlightenment strand often uses Kant's argot: ‘absolute necessity’, ‘apodictic certainty’ and ‘a priori’ judgement or knowledge. The experience of being compelled by proof, the sense that something must be true, that a result is certain, generates the philosophy. It also creates the illusion that mathematics is certain. Kant's leading question, ‘How is pure mathematics possible?’, is easily misunderstood because the modern distinction between pure and applied is an artefact of the 19th century. As Russell put it, the issue is to explain ‘the apparent power of anticipating facts about things of which we have no experience’. More generally the question is, how is it that pure mathematics is so rich in applications? Some six types of application are distinguished, each of which engenders its own philosophical problems which are descendants of the Enlightenment, and which differ from those descended from the Ancient strand. (shrink)
Ian Hacking sets out a parallel between Michel Foucault’s thought and that of Giulio Preti based on the debate between them that took place in 1971. This is the speech given at the award of the ‘Giulio Preti’ Prize in November 2008.
Philosophers have been referring to the “Kripke–Putnam” theory of naturalkind terms for over 30 years. Although there is one common starting point, the two philosophers began with different motivations and presuppositions, and developed in different ways. Putnam’s publications on the topic evolved over the decades, certainly clarifying and probably modifying his analysis, while Kripke published nothing after 1980. The result is two very different theories about natural kinds and their names. Both accept that the meaning of a naturalkind term is (...) not given by a description or defining properties, but is specified byits referents. From then on, Putnam rejected even the label, causal theory of reference, preferring to say historical, or collective. He called his own approach indexical. His account of substance identity stops short a number of objections that were later raised, such as what is called the qua problem. He came to reject the thought that water is necessarily H2O, and to denounce the idea of metaphysical necessity that goes beyond physical necessity. Essences never had a role in his analysis; there is no sense in which he was an essentialist. He thought of hidden structures as the usual determinant of natural kinds, but always insisted that what counts as a natural kind is relative to interests. “Natural kind” itself is itself an importantly theoretical concept, he argued. The paper also notes that Putnam says a great deal about what natural kinds are, while Kripke did not. Moreover, a theory about names of natural kinds is to some extent independent of a theory of natural kinds themselves, to the extent that one can accept the one and reject the other, even when both are advanced by the same philosopher. (shrink)
The rosy dawn of my title refers to that optimistic time when the logical concept of a natural kind originated in Victorian England. The scholastic twilight refers to the present state of affairs. I devote more space to dawn than twilight, because one basic problem was there from the start, and by now those origins have been forgotten. Philosophers have learned many things about classification from the tradition of natural kinds. But now it is in disarray and is unlikely to (...) be put back together again. My argument is less founded on objections to the numerous theories now in circulation, than on the sheer proliferation of incompatible views. There no longer exists what Bertrand Russell called ‘the doctrine of natural kinds’—one doctrine. Instead we have a slew of distinct analyses directed at unrelated projects. (shrink)
This paper puts together an ancientand a recent approach to classificatory language, thought, and ontology.It includes on the one hand an interpretation of Aristotle's ten categories,with remarks on his first category, called (or translated as) substancein the Categories or What a thing is in the Topics. On the other hand is the ideaof domain-specific cognitive abilities urged in contemporary developmentalpsychology. Each family of ideas can be used to understand the other. Neitherthe metaphysical nor the psychological approach is intrinsically morefundamental; they (...) complement each other. The paper incidentally clarifies distinct uses of the word category in different disciplines, and also attempts to make explicit several notions of domain. It also examines Aristotle's most exotic and least discussed categories, being-in-a-position (e.g., sitting) and having-(on) (e.g., armour). Finally the paper suggests a tentative connectionbetween Fred Sommers' theory of types and Aristotle's first category. (shrink)
This is an introductory textbook on probability and induction written by one of the world's foremost philosophers of science. The book has been designed to offer maximal accessibility to the widest range of students (not only those majoring in philosophy) and assumes no formal training in elementary symbolic logic. It offers a comprehensive course covering all basic definitions of induction and probability, and considers such topics as decision theory, Bayesianism, frequency ideas, and the philosophical problem of induction. The key features (...) of this book are a lively and vigorous prose style; lucid and systematic organization and presentation of ideas; many practical applications; a rich supply of exercises drawing on examples from such fields as psychology, ecology, economics, bioethics, engineering, and political science; numerous brief historical accounts of how fundamental ideas of probability and induction developed; and a full bibliography of further reading. (shrink)
Obviously we could have failed to be successful scientists. But a serious question lurks beneath the banal one stated in my title. If the results of a scientific investigation are correct, would any investigation of roughly the same subject matter, if successful, at least implicitly contain or imply the same results? Using examples ranging from immunology to high-energy physics, the paper presents the cases for both positive and negative answers. The paper is deliberately non-conclusive, arguing that the question is one (...) of the few serious philosophical issues that divides protagonists in the "science wars.". (shrink)
All three authors range themselves against John Norton's deductive analysis of thought experiments. Brown's insight, Nersessian's mental modelling, and Gooding's embodiment, arise, in each case, from a major all-purpose philosophical theory. None reaches down to the specific level of thought experiments, which are small, rare, and precious. I urge attention to Wittgenstein's remark that "the experimental character disappears when one looks at the process as a memorable picture." Thought experiments are not experiments. They are static. They become fixed, more like (...) jokes or optical illusions. Unlike real experiments, they have no life of their own. (shrink)
In this important new study Ian Hacking continues the enquiry into the origins and development of certain characteristic modes of contemporary thought undertaken in such previous works as his best selling Emergence of Probability. Professor Hacking shows how by the late nineteenth century it became possible to think of statistical patterns as explanatory in themselves, and to regard the world as not necessarily deterministic in character. Combining detailed scientific historical research with characteristic philosophic breath and verve, The Taming of Chance (...) brings out the relations among philosophy, the physical sciences, mathematics and the development of social institutions, and provides a unique and authoritative analysis of the "probabilization" of the Western world. (shrink)
My Representing and Intervening (1983) concludes with what it calls an experimental argument for scientific realism about entities. The argument is evidently inapplicable to extragalactic astrophysics, but leaves open the possibility that there might be other grounds for scientific realism in that domain. Here I argue for antirealism in astrophysics, although not for any particular kind of antirealism. The argument is conducted by a detailed examination of some current research. It parallels the last chapter of (1983). Both represent the methodological (...) opinion that abstract or semantic realism/antirealism debates are empty, and typically lead to confused or wrong conclusions because they pay so little attention to the details of a science. (shrink)
This paper surveys a decade of philosophical discussion of laboratory science, and concludes with a bibliography. Among its topics are: (1) The historical emergence of distinct styles of experimental reasoning and practice; the relation of this to constructionalist theses. (2) The extension of Duhem's thesis to instruments and apparatus; not only are theory and observation malleable resources, but also the materiel with which one works. (3) The demarcation of science not by method or content, but by product; the creation of (...) phenomena. (4) The disunity of science; science conceived of as a motley of autonomous activities, not as hierarchy. (5) The need to rethink the idea of experiment as intervention; to replace the model of experimenter as master of nature by that of investigator as collaborator. (shrink)
This is a volume of specially commissioned essays of analytical philosophy, on topics of current interest in ethics and the philosophy of logic and language. Among the topics discussed are the making of wicked promises, G. E. Moore's early ethical views, as well as indexicals, tense, indeterminism, conventionalism in mathematics, and identity and necessity. The essays are all by former students of Casimir Lewy, until recently Reader in Philosophy at the University of Cambridge and an exponent of a particularly thoroughgoing (...) form of philosophical analysis. Together, they represent some of the best work in these areas at present, and express what may be described as a characteristic 'Cambridge' voice. (shrink)
This is a lively and clearly written introduction to the philosophy of natural science, organized around the central theme of scientific realism. It has two parts. 'Representing' deals with the different philosophical accounts of scientific objectivity and the reality of scientific entities. The views of Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Putnam, van Fraassen, and others, are all considered. 'Intervening' presents the first sustained treatment of experimental science for many years and uses it to give a new direction to debates about realism. Hacking (...) illustrates how experimentation often has a life independent of theory. He argues that although the philosophical problems of scientific realism can not be resolved when put in terms of theory alone, a sound philosophy of experiment provides compelling grounds for a realistic attitude. A great many scientific examples are described in both parts of the book, which also includes lucid expositions of recent high energy physics and a remarkable chapter on the microscope in cell biology. (shrink)
Bringing together important writings not easily available elsewhere, this volume provides a convenient and stimulating overview of recent work in the philosophy of science. The contributors include Paul Feyerabend, Ian Hacking, T.S. Kuhn, Imre Lakatos, Laurens Laudan, Karl Popper, Hilary Putnam, and Dudley Shapere. In addition, Hacking provides an introductory essay and a selective bibliography.
Does the frequency distribution in the population derive from probabilistic facts about the individuals that compose it or are there some stable frequencies that pertain to populations, but do not derive from probabilistic facts about members of the population? The author of this paper suggests that some natural phenomena may be accurately described in propensity terms, while others are accurately described only in frequency terms.
A new problem about mathematical expectation: there exists a state of affairs S and options H and T such that in every element of one partition of S, the expectation of H exceeds that of T, while in every element of a different partition of S, the expectation of T exceeds that of H. This problem may be connected with questions about inference in the short and long run, and with questions about confidence intervals and fiducial probability.
Many people find themselves dissatisfied with recent linguistic philosophy, and yet know that language has always mattered deeply to philosophy and must in some sense continue to do so. Ian Hacking considers here some dozen case studies in the history of philosophy to show the different ways in which language has been important, and the consequences for the development of the subject. There are chapters on, among others, Hobbes, Berkeley, Russell, Ayer, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, Feyerabend and Davidson. Dr Hacking (...) ends by speculating about the directions in which philosophy and the study of language seem likely to go. The book will provide students with a stimulating, broad survey of problems in the theory of meaning and the development of philosophy, particularly in this century. The topics treated in the philosophy of language are among the central, current concerns of philosophers, and the historical framework makes it possible to introduce concretely and intelligibly all the main theoretical issues. (shrink)
A person required to risk money on a remote digit of π would, in order to comply fully with the theory [of personal probability] have to compute that digit, though this would really be wasteful if the cost of computation were more than the prize involved. For the postulates of the theory imply that you should behave in accordance with the logical implications of all that you know. Is it possible to improve the theory in this respect, making allowance within (...) it for the cost of thinking, or would that entail paradox? (shrink)