In the growing Prussian university system of the early nineteenth century, "Wissenschaft" (science) was seen as an endeavor common to university faculties, characterized by a rigorous methodology. On this view, history and jurisprudence are sciences, as much as is physics. Nineteenth century trends challenged this view: the increasing influence of materialist and positivist philosophies, profound changes in the relationships between university faculties, and the defense of Kant's classification of the sciences by neo-Kantians. Wilhelm Dilthey's defense of the independence of the (...) methodology of the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) from those of the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) is as much a return to the ideal of Wissenschaft as a cooperative endeavor as it is a defense of the autonomy of interpretive or hermeneutic methods. The debate between Dilthey and the neo-Kantian Wilhelm Windelband at the close of the century illuminates the development of this dialogue over the nineteenth century. (shrink)
Natural Science is a new volume of the Cambridge translations of Kant's works. It makes available some of the most significant texts of Kant's pre-Critical period, some appearing for the first time in English translation. The translations are largely clear and accurate. Eric Watkins is a sure and knowledgeable editor, and provides concise and informative introductions to each text.
Friedrich Albert Lange (b. 1828, d. 1875) was a German philosopher, pedagogue, political activist, and journalist. He was one of the originators of neo-Kantianism and an important figure in the founding of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism. He is also played a significant role in the German labour movement and in the development of social democratic thought. His book, THE HISTORY OF MATERIALISM, was a standard introduction to materialism and the history of philosophy well into the twentieth century.
I examine the role of inference from experiment in theory building. What are the options open to the scientific community when faced with an experimental result that appears to be in conflict with accepted theory? I distinguish, in Laudan's (1977), Nickels's (1981), and Franklin's (1993) sense, between the context of pursuit and the context of justification of a scientific theory. Making this distinction allows for a productive middle position between epistemic realism and constructivism. The decision to pursue a new or (...) a revised theory in response to the new evidence may not be fully rationally determined. Nonetheless, it is possible to distinguish the question of whether there is reason to pursue a theory from the question of whether that theory, once it has been pursued over time, solves a problem of interest to science. I argue that, in this context, there is a solid way to distinguish between the contexts of pursuit and of justification, on the basis of a theory's evidential support and problem-solving ability. (shrink)
In the nineteenth century, the separation of naturalist or psychological accounts of validity from normative validity came into question. In his 1877 Logical Studies (Logische Studien), Friedrich Albert Lange argues that the basis for necessary inference is demonstration, which takes place by spatially delimiting the extension of concepts using imagined or physical diagrams. These diagrams are signs or indications of concepts' extension, but do not represent their content. Only the inference as a whole captures the objective content of the proof. (...) Thus, Lange argues, the necessity of an inference is independent of psychological accounts of how we grasp the content of a proposition. (shrink)
Experiments may not reveal their full import at the time that they are performed. The scientists who perform them usually are testing a specific hypothesis and quite often have specific expectations limiting the possible inferences that can be drawn from the experiment. Nonetheless, as Hacking has said, experiments have lives of their own. Those lives do not end with the initial report of the results and consequences of the experiment. Going back and rethinking the consequences of the experiment in a (...) new context, theoretical or empirical, has great merit as a strategy for investigation and for scientific problem analysis. I apply this analysis to the interplay between Fizeau's classic optical experiments and the building of special relativity. Einstein's understanding of the problems facing classical electrodynamics and optics, in part, was informed by Fizeau's 1851 experiments. However, between 1851 and 1905, Fizeau's experiments were duplicated and reinterpreted by a succession of scientists, including Hertz, Lorentz, and Michelson. Einstein's analysis of the consequences of the experiments is tied closely to this theoretical and experimental tradition. However, Einstein's own inferences from the experiments differ greatly from the inferences drawn by others in that tradition. (shrink)
That the history and the philosophy of science have been united in a form of disciplinary marriage is a fact. There are pressing questions about the state of this union. Discourse on a New Method: Reinvigorating the Marriage of History and Philosophy of Science is a state of the union address, but also an articulation of compelling and well-defended positions on strategies for making progress in the history and philosophy of science.
Kant's account of space as an infinite given magnitude in the Critique of Pure Reason is paradoxical, since infinite magnitudes go beyond the limits of possible experience. Michael Friedman's and Charles Parsons's accounts make sense of geometrical construction, but I argue that they do not resolve the paradox. I argue that metaphysical space is based on the ability of the subject to generate distinctly oriented spatial magnitudes of invariant scalar quantity through translation or rotation. The set of determinately oriented, constructed (...) geometrical spaces is a proper subset of metaphysical space, thus, metaphysical space is infinite. Kant's paradoxical doctrine of metaphysical space is necessary to reconcile his empiricism with his transcendental idealism. (shrink)
A volume dealing seriously with the influence of the major schools of Neo-Kantian thought on contemporary philosophy has been needed sorely for some time. But this volume of essays aims higher: it 'is published in the hopes that it will secure Neo-Kantianism a significant place in contemporary philosophical discussions' (Introduction, 1). The aim of the book, then, is partly to provide a history of major Neo-Kantian thinkers and their influence, and partly to argue for their importance in contemporary (continental) philosophy.
Hyder constructs two historical narratives. First, he gives an account of Helmholtz's relation to Kant, from the famous Raumproblem, which preoccupied philosophers, geometers, and scientists in the mid-19th century, to Helmholtz's arguments in his four papers on geometry from 1868 to 1878 that geometry is, in some sense, an empirical science (chapters 5 and 6). The second theme is the argument for the necessity of central forces to a determinate scientific description of physical reality, an abiding concern of Helmholtz's, and (...) one that, as Hyder shows, has Kantian roots. Helmholtz's commitment to the necessity of central forces was key to his responses to rival views on electromagnetism, and is a deep and often under-appreciated element of his epistemology of science. (shrink)
The Marburg neo-Kantians argue that Hermann von Helmholtz's empiricist account of the a priori does not account for certain knowledge, since it is based on a psychological phenomenon, trust in the regularities of nature. They argue that Helmholtz's account raises the 'problem of validity' (Gueltigkeitsproblem): how to establish a warranted claim that observed regularities are based on actual relations. I reconstruct Heinrich Hertz's and Ludwig Wittgenstein's Bild theoretic answer to the problem of validity: that scientists and philosophers can depict the (...) necessary a priori constraints on states of affairs in a given system, and can establish whether these relations are actual relations in nature. The analysis of necessity within a system is a lasting contribution of the Bild theory. However, Hertz and Wittgenstein argue that the logical and mathematical sentences of a Bild are rules, tools for constructing relations, and the rules themselves are meaningless outside the theory. Carnap revises the argument for validity by attempting to give semantic rules for translation between frameworks. Russell and Quine object that pragmatics better accounts for the role of a priori reasoning in translating between frameworks. The conclusion of the tale, then, is a partial vindication of Helmholtz's original account. (shrink)
In _Aspects of Scientific Explanation_ (New York, 1965), Carl Hempel argued that the philosophy of science should focus on objectivist explanation and should not incorporate an account of pragmatic or subjective understanding. The stated aim of this collection of essays is to argue against Hempel's objectivist view by arguing for incorporating accounts of understanding into the philosophy of science and by giving a substantive account of the role of understanding in modeling and in scientific practice. The volume is ambitious and (...) wide ranging, including essays on economics, biology, psychology, and history, among other matters. The essays make a substantive contribution, not only to accounts of scientific understanding, but to debates about methodology in science and about methods in history and philosophy of science. The ambitious reach of the project raises inevitable questions, including a pressing one about the relationship between the subjective and the objective in science - how to distinguish substantive understanding from explanation. (shrink)
Recent work on the philosophy of Hermann Cohen (1848-1914), founder of the Marburg School of Neo-Kantianism, has appeared in three distinct circles in the English-speaking philosophical context. Cohen re-interpreted Kant's a priori to take scientific developments into account. Michael Friedman acknowledges that the later development of this view by Cohen's intellectual heir Ernst Cassirer influenced Friedman's work on the dynamic a priori, especially in the history and philosophy of science. Owing to Cohen's links to Franz Rosenzweig, scholars have begun to (...) investigate Cohen's philosophy with reference to Derrida, Benjamin, Habermas, and Levinas and the philosophy of responsibility. And there is increasing interest in analyzing Cohen's influence on Deleuze and Badiou, particularly in the areas of ethics and aesthetics. (shrink)
Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) participated in two of the most significant developments in physics and in the philosophy of science in the 19th century: the proof that Euclidean geometry does not describe the only possible visualizable and physical space, and the shift from physics based on actions between particles at a distance to the field theory. Helmholtz achieved a staggering number of scientific results, including the formulation of energy conservation, the vortex equations for fluid dynamics, the notion of free energy (...) in thermodynamics, and the invention of the ophthalmoscope. His constant interest in the epistemology of science guarantees his enduring significance for philosophy. (shrink)
The three works dedicated to securing the foundation of Kantian doctrine are linked inextricably to Hermann Cohen's philosophical life's work. For as much as Cohen distanced himself from Kant's conclusions on individual points in building his own system, the methodological consciousness that inspired all of Cohen's individual achievements certainly first achieved clarity and maturity in his scientific, comprehensive analysis of Kant's fundamental works.
German supporters of the Kantian philosophy in the late 19th century took one of two forks in the road: the fork leading to Baden, and the Southwest School of neo-Kantian philosophy, and the fork leading to Marburg, and the Marburg School, founded by Hermann Cohen. Between 1876, when Cohen came to Marburg, and 1918, the year of Cohen's death, Cohen, with his Marburg School, had a profound influence on German academia.
In my dissertation, I present Hermann Cohen's foundation for the history and philosophy of science. My investigation begins with Cohen's formulation of a neo-Kantian epistemology. I analyze Cohen's early work, especially his contributions to 19th century debates about the theory of knowledge. I conclude by examining Cohen's mature theory of science in two works, The Principle of the Infinitesimal Method and its History of 1883, and Cohen's extensive 1914 Introduction to Friedrich Lange's History of Materialism. In the former, Cohen gives (...) an historical and philosophical analysis of the foundations of the infinitesimal method in mathematics. In the latter, Cohen presents a detailed account of Heinrich Hertz's Principles of Mechanics of 1894. Hertz considers a series of possible foundations for mechanics, in the interest of finding a secure conceptual basis for mechanical theories. Cohen argues that Hertz's analysis can be completed, and his goal achieved, by means of a philosophical examination of the role of mathematical principles and fundamental concepts in scientific theories. (shrink)