In 1948 Karl Popper sent a copy of his paper, ‘Utopia and Violence’, to Michael Oakeshott. Popper had recently read Oakeshott’s essay ‘Rationalism in Politics’, appreciating its relevance to views he had expressed in The Open Society. Oakeshott wrote to Popper at some length, explaining his thoughts about reason, tradition and kindred matters, to which Popper responded. This paper reproduces these letters and discusses them with reference to pertinent writings of Popper and Oakeshott. While showing there was much common ground (...) between the two men and that they significantly influenced each other, the writings reveal important differences over the role of reason and tradition in social and political life. (shrink)
Born in 1918 in New York, awarded a doctorate in analytical chemistry (1944), Leonard K. Nash enjoyed a distinguished career at Harvard, holding a chair of chemistry from 1959 to 1986. Conducting research in thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, Nash authored successful textbooks, some of which remain in print (e.g. Elements of Chemical Thermodynamics, and Elements of Statistical Thermodynamics).This essay describes the theory of science that Nash developed in a book he published in 1963, The Nature of the Natural Sciences. The (...) present author is of the view that Nash's neglected theory is worth retrieving, as one that is likely to kindle the interest of historians of metascience on several counts. Part of .. (shrink)
Michael Polanyi and Karl Popper offer contrasting accounts of social tradition. Popper is steeped in the heritage of the Enlightenment, while Polanyi interweaves religious and diverse secular strands of thought. Explaining the liberal tradition, Polanyi features tacit knowledge of rules, standards, applications and interpretations being transmitted by “craftsmen” to “apprentices.” Each generation adopts the liberal tradition on “faith,” commits to creatively developing its art of knowledge-in-practice, and is drawn to the spiritual reality of ideal ends. Of particular interest to Popper (...) is the rationality of social traditions. Likened by him to scientific theories, Popper’s traditions are criticizable and improvable, assisting agents to understand, and act in, the world as stable and predictable. Polanyi’s is the more informative rendering of tradition. Polanyi delves deeply into important areas where Popper only scratches their surface: the tacit dimension, transmission by way of apprenticeship, the meaning of tradition for those who participate in it, and the extent of its authority over them. (shrink)
Edward Shils presented his book Tradition (1981) as the first extensive study of the subject. This article casts light on Shils' multifaceted understanding of tradition, comprising pragmatic, Burkean, veridical, and evolutionist perspectives. His typology of traditions is noted, and his view of institutional bearers of tradition described. In assessing Shils' theory, however, we find that it overreaches, collapsing differences that exist between traditions, transmissions, and the traditional. Key Words: tradition transmission rationalization antitradition science.
The article argues that Polanyi was a likely source of influence on the theory of science that Kuhn developed in his The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962). The striking similarity between Kuhn’s idea ofincommuensurability and Polanyi’s rendering of scientific controversy in Personal Knowledge is featured here, and is used to expose a tension between Polanyi's notions of scientific controversy and unfolding truth.
This essay reviews historical records that set forth the discussions and interaction of Michael Polanyi and Karl Mannheim/rom 1944 until Mannheim’s death early in 1947. The letters describe Polanyi’s effort to assemble a book to be published in a series edited by Manneheim. Theyalso reveal the different perspectives these thinkers took about freedom and the historical context of ideas. Records of J.H. Oldham’s discussion group “the Moot” suggest that these and other differences in philosophy were debated in meetings of “the (...) Moot” attended by Polanyi and Mannheim in 1944. (shrink)
Kuhn and Feyerabend have little to say about the thought of Michael Polanyi, and the secondary literature on Polanyi's relation to them is meagre. I argue that Polanyi's view, in Personal knowledge and in other writings, of conceptual frameworks 'segregated' by a 'logical gap' as giving rise to controversies in science foreshadowed Kuhn and Feyerabend's theme of incommensurability. The similarity between the thinkers is, I suggest, no coincidence.
Popper, Polanyi and Duncker represent the widely held position that theoretical and experimental scientific research are motivated by problems to which discoveries are solutions. According to the argument here, their views are unsupported and - in light of counter-instances, anomalous chance discoveries, and the force of curiosity - over-generalized.
Normative pragmatics can bridge the differences between dialectical and rhetorical theories in a way that saves the central insights of both. Normative pragmatics calls attention to how the manifest strategic design of a message produces interpretive effects and interactional consequences. Argumentative analysis of messages should begin with the manifest persuasive rationale they communicate. But not all persuasive inducements should be treated as arguments. Arguments express with a special pragmatic force propositions where those propositions stand in particular inferential relations to one (...) another. Normative pragmatics provides a framework within which varieties of propositional inference and pragmatic force may be kept straight. Normative pragmatics conceptualizes argumentative effectiveness in a way that integrates notions of rhetorical strategy and rhetorical situation with dialectical norms and procedures for reasonable deliberation. Strategic effectiveness should be seen in terms of maximizing the chances that claims and arguments will be reasonably evaluated, whether or not they are accepted. Procedural rationality should be seen in terms of adjustment to the demands of concrete circumstances. Two types of adjustment are illustrated: rhetorical strategies for framing the conditions for dialectical deliberation and rhetorical strategies for making do with limitations to dialectical deliberation. (shrink)
This paper compares Hayek and Polanyi on spontaneous social order. Although Hayek is widely believed to have first both coined the name and explicated the idea of ?spontaneous order?, it is in fact Michael Polanyi who did so. Numerous differences emerge between the two thinkers. The characterisation of spontaneous order in Hayek, for example, involves different types of freedom to those advanced by Polanyi. Whereas Hayek (usually) portrays spontaneous order as a single entity, which is equivalent to free society as (...) a whole ? the free?catallactic society ? Polanyi by contrast is disposed to conceive of spontaneous orders as sub?units or components within free society as a whole. These and other aspects of their thought ? including the distinction between spontaneous and planned social orders ? are reviewed and criticised. (shrink)
An extended discussion of Richard Allen’s Beyond Liberalism: The Political Thought of F. A. Hayek & Michael Polanyi in which the book’s prominent themes and arguments are described, and certain inaccuracies and shortcomings noted.
How did Karl Popper arrive at his theory of science? Popper believed that Einstein’s general theory of relativity and his attitudes of modesty and self-criticism were all important.This paper challenges details in Popper’s account and suggests an alternative interpretation of the formation of his theory. It is held that his disillusionment with Marxism predated and conditioned his understanding of Einstein, and that the liberalism of J. S. Mill may have exercised an influence . Political ideas and practice paved the way (...) for Popper’s philosophy of science. (shrink)
Locke scholars continue to disagree over how he analyzed natural laws, real essence-power relations in physical substances. Some say he regarded them as emanations, necessitated by the corpuscular structure of real essences; for others his laws are adventitious, imposed on substances by God and contingent on divine alterable will. The second view has been increasingly favored in recent years, assisted no doubt by Edwin McCann's potent case for it in "Lockean Mechanism" (1985). The present article, whose authors are sympathetic to (...) the necessitarian reading of Locke, argues against McCann's exegesis. (shrink)
It is a testimony to the enduring importance of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that, 30 years on, its doctrines of normal science and paradigm, incommensurability and revolution continue to challenge metascien tists and stimulate vigorous debate. Critique has mainly come from philosophers and historians; by and large, interested sociologists have embraced Kuhn. Un justifiably so, this article argues, bringing to light a serious difficulty or "anom aly" in his account of the social side of science. Contrary to (...) what he claims, scientific knowledge is not the achievement of organic communities. It is con structed in "trans-epistemic arenas" by diverse participants, laypeople, and specialists. Accepting "community" is a flawed concept in the sociology of science, and in appreciating the major role Kuhn assigned it, the Kuhnian system looks less robust than it did before. (shrink)
It has been said that Robert Boyle gave in the century of The Scientific Revolution the “fullest expression” of the view that laws of nature are continually impressed by God (“occasionalism”). So regarded, the universe is anything but an autonomous machine, its ordered operation depending on God’s continuous imposition of lawful, patterned relations between phenomena and his continuous provision of motion for them to actually enter relations. The present paper contests this treatment of Boyle. Evidence is elicited to show that, (...) for Boyle, most physical relations issue from intrinsic dispositions of phenomena, not divine impositions, dispositions determined by corpuscular textures. Members of classes of phenomena have capacities to make specific changes which members of other classes have capacities to receive, these correlative capacities being necessarily connected, subjects in principle of a priori synthetic necessary knowledge. The same view is found in John Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. It is additionally argued that Boyle’s God, the quintessentially active being, imparted motion at the creation, whereafter the motion of (at least most) natural phenomena has derived from natural, not supernatural, impulsion. (shrink)
John Gray's recent critique of liberalism, and his case for an apparently relativistic ?post?Pyrrhonian?; political philosophy, are shown to be wanting. Weaknesses in Gray's critique are identified and discussed: the characterization of liberalism as universally prescriptive, confusion about whether liberalism is a genuine tradition, and misunderstanding of the relation between conduct and the value of freedom. A formulation of liberalism that is not universalist ("temperate?; liberalism) is offered, and it is shown that one of liberalism's vital concerns?controlling political power in (...) order to protect freedom ? is a hiatus in Gray's theory. (shrink)