This set of original essays by some of the best names in philosophy of science explores a range of diverse issues in the intersection of biology and epistemology. It asks whether the study of life requires a special biological approach to knowledge and concludes that it does not. The studies, taken together, help to develop and deepen our understanding of how biology works and what counts as warranted knowledge and as legitimate approaches to the study of life. The first section (...) deals with the nature of evidence and evolutionary theory as it came to dominate nineteenth-century philosophy of science; the second and third parts deal with the impact of laboratory and experimental research. This is an impressive team of authors, bringing together some of the most distinguished philosophers of science today. The volume will interest professionals and graduate students in biology and the history and philosophy of science. (shrink)
Quine rejects Peirce's theory of truth because, among other things, its notion of a limit of a sequence of theories is defective in that the notion of a limit depends on that of nearer than which is defined for numbers but not for theories. This paper shows that the missing definition of nearer than applied to theories can be supplied from within Quine's own epistemology. The upshot is that either Quine's epistemology must be rejected or Peirce's pragmatic theory of truth (...) is partially vindicated. (shrink)
It is widely believed that empiricism, though once dominant, is now extinct. This turns out to be mistaken because of incorrect assumption about the initial dominance of logical empiricism and about the content and variety of logical empiricist views. In fact, prominent contemporary philosophers (Quine and Kuhn) who are thought to have demolished logical empiricism are shown to exhibit central views of the logical empiricists rather than having overthrown them.
This paper is a reexamination of Two Dogmas in the light of Quine's ongoing debate with Carnap over analyticity. It shows, first, that analytic is a technical term within Carnap's epistemology. As such it is intelligible, and Carnap's position can meet Quine's objections. Second, it shows that the core of Quine's objection is that he (Quine) has an alternative epistemology to advance, one which appears to make no room for analyticity. Finally, the paper shows that Quine's alternative epistemology is (...) itself open to very serious objections. Quine is not thereby refuted, but neither can Carnap's analyticity be dismissed as dogma. (shrink)
Philosophers often divide Carnap's work into syntactic, semantic, and later periods, but this disguises the importance of his early syntactical writing. In Logical Syntax Carnap is a thoroughgoing conventionalist and pragmatist. Once we see that, it is easier to see as well that these views were retained throughout the rest of his life, that the breaks between periods are not as important as the continuities, and that our understanding of such Carnapian notions as analyticity and probability needs reevaluation.
Quine does not like counterfactuals. He thinks them unclear, and so he eschews them. It is enough, he thinks, for science to say of what it is that it is and that it is all that is. There is no need to say of what is not that it is not, or even worse, to say of what is not what it would be if ...
To assess van Fraassen's anti-realism, I examine observation and its relation to judging. I argue that the boundary of observability is determined pragmatically, because observing depends on the context of inquiry and because the 'able' in 'observable' implicitly involves human interests and concerns. Thus, observability is like van Fraassen's notions of simplicity and explanation. While a non-pragmatic notion of observability can be devised, then virtually any event is potentially observable. Consequently, van Fraassen's attempt to divide empirical adequacy from the pragmatic (...) features of theories loses much of its plausibility, and his anti-realism loses a potential motivation. Indeed, his anti-realism begins to look rather arbitrary. (shrink)
This paper defends scientific realism, the doctrine that we should interpret theories as being just as ontologically committing as beliefs at the observational level. I examine the character of observation to show that the difference in interpretation suggested by anti-realists is unwarranted. Second, I discuss Wilfrid Sellars'' approach to the issue. Finally, I provide a detailed study of recent work by Bas van Fraassen. While van Fraassen''s work is the focus of the paper, the conclusions are far broader: That a (...) wide family of anti-realist views (of which van Fraassen''s is only one) is problematic and unmotivated and hence to be rejected. (shrink)
It is argued that Carnap was not a complete verificationist in the Aufbau despite the widespread view that he was. That doctrine would be intrinsic to constructionalism only if either of two additional assumptions are made, and there is no reason to believe that Carnap made these assumptions. Further, in the Aufbau Carnap did not demand verifiability independently of constructionalism, and his clear rejection of verifiability in Pseudoproblems counts heavily against his ever having accepted it in the Aufbau.