In this paper I argue that physics makes metaphysical presuppositions concerning the physical comprehensibility, the dynamic unity, of the universe. I argue that rigour requires that these metaphysical presuppositions be made explicit as an integral part of theoretical knowledge in physics. An account of what it means to assert of a theory that it is unified is developed, which provides the means for partially ordering dynamical physical theories with respect to their degrees of unity. This in turn makes it possible (...) to assess the empirical fruitfulness of (some) metaphysical theses, in terms of the extent to which they play a role in empirically progressive scientific research programmes. A new conception of physics is developed which makes metaphysical theses an integral part of physics and which, at the same time, makes it possible to assess such theses in terms of their empirical fruitfulness. Circularity objections are rebutted. (shrink)
Peirce's ScientificMetaphysics is the first book devoted to understanding Charles Sanders Peirce's (1839-1914) metaphysics from the perspective of the scientific questions that motivated his thinking. While offering a detailed account of the scientific ideas and theories essential for understanding Peirce's metaphysical system, this book is written in a manner accessible to the non-specialist.
Scientific realism is the view that our best scientific theories give approximately true descriptions of both observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent world. Debates between realists and their critics are at the very heart of the philosophy of science. Anjan Chakravartty traces the contemporary evolution of realism by examining the most promising recent strategies adopted by its proponents in response to the forceful challenges of antirealist sceptics, resulting in a positive proposal for scientific realism today. He (...) examines the core principles of the realist position, and sheds light on topics including the varieties of metaphysical commitment required, and the nature of the conflict between realism and its empiricist rivals. By illuminating the connections between realist interpretations of scientific knowledge and the metaphysical foundations supporting them, his book offers a compelling vision of how realism can provide an internally consistent and coherent account of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Conducted almost exclusively at the epistemological level the scientific realism debate often ignores metaphysical niceties. In the face of the scientific realist’s systematic appeal to metaphysical notions like causation and natural kinds the neglect seems dissonant. Chakravartty aspires to overturn it with a bespoke metaphysics for scientific realism. In pursuing this aim, he undrapes a more comprehensive vision of the scientific realist viewpoint, including a distinctive epistemology.
I investigate two questions about scientific properties, their relationship to the laws of nature, and their quantitative nature, with an eye to a more general issue: how metaphysical inquiry is sensitive to one’s chosen “metaphysical tools”.
Pragmatism of Peirce and James overcomed traditional dualism between mind and matter, sense data and conceptions, and the severe differentiation between philosophy, science, art and religion. They made three types of synthesis- epistemological, metaphysical and religious, based on relations between belief, thought, and action. Within the framework of these the problem of relation between science and religion is solved. Peirce founded science on essentially religious metaphysics in such context in which knowledge and thought are grounded and become meaningful. Science (...) exists as a part of evolution of the universe not as end in itself. Without solving the metaphysical problems scientific knowledge is fallible and incomplete. Religious belief is another sort of knowledge for the evolution and in the future it would converge with science. -/- . (shrink)
When we think of scientific realism, there seem to be to ways to conceive of what it is about. The first is to see it as a view about scientific theories; the second is to see it as a view about the world. Some philosophers, most typically from Australia, think that the second way is the correct way. Scientific realism, they argue, is a metaphysical thesis: it asserts the reality of some types of entity, most typically, unobservable (...) entities. I agree that scientific realism has a metaphysical dimension, but I have insisted that it has other dimensions too. In my (1999), I took scientific realism to consist of three theses (or stances). (shrink)
The anti-metaphysical attitude of the neo-positivist movement is notorious. It is an essential mark of what its members regarded as the scientific world view. The paper focuses on a metaphysical variation of the scientific world view as proposed by Heinrich Scholz and his Münster group, who can be regarded as a peripheral part of the movement. They used formal ontology for legitimizing the use of logical calculi. Scholz's relation to the neo-positivist movement and his contributions to logic and (...) foundations are discussed. His heuristic background can be drawn from a set of six methodological ‘articles of faith’, formulated in 1942 and published here for the first time. I would like to thank Gudrun Mikus (Paderborn) for her assistance in collecting the material, Neil Tennant (Ohio State University, Columbus) for his efforts to improve the paper not only in lingual aspects, and Christian Thiel (Erlangen) and two anonymous referees for their helpful comments. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this? (shrink)
Philosophy of science is seen by most as a meta-discipline – one that takes science as its subject matter, and seeks to acquire knowledge and understanding about science without in any way affecting, or contributing to, science itself. Karl Popper’s approach is very different. His first love is natural philosophy or, as he would put it, cosmology. This intermingles cosmology and the rest of natural science with epistemology, methodology and metaphysics. Paradoxically, however, one of his best known contributions, his (...) proposed solution to the problem of demarcation, helps to maintain the gulf that separates science from metaphysics, thus fragmenting cosmology into falsifiable science on the one hand, untestable philosophy on the other. This has damaging repercussions for a number of issues Popper tackles, from the problem of induction to simplicity of theory and quantum theory. But his proposed solution to the demarcation problem is untenable. Metaphysical assumptions are an integral part of scientific knowledge, inherent in the persistent acceptance of unified theories against the evidence. Once this is appreciated, it becomes obvious that natural philosophy, a synthesis of science and philosophy, is both more rigorous and of greater intellectual value than the two dissociated components we have today. What Popper sought for could come to full fruition. Problems that Popper tackled, from the problem of induction, to the problem of unity of theory, problems of quantum theory, and problems concerning the scope and limits of physics, all receive more adequate resolution within the new, fully-fledged natural philosophy. (shrink)
This is a review of Craig Dilworth's The Metaphysics of Science (Dordrecht, Springer, 2007). The book propounds an immensely important idea. Science makes metaphysical presuppositions. Unfortunately, Dilworth ignores work that has been done on this issue which takes the matter much further than he does.
Is Science Neurotic? sets out to show that science suffers from a damaging but rarely noticed methodological disease — “rationalistic neurosis.” Assumptions concerning metaphysics, human value and politics, implicit in the aims of science, are repressed, and the malaise has spread to affect the whole academic enterprise, with the potential for extraordinarily damaging long-term consequences. The book begins with a discussion of the aims and methods of natural science, and moves on to discuss social science, philosophy, education, psychoanalytic theory (...) and academic inquiry as a whole. It makes an original and compelling contribution to the current debate between those for and those against science, arguing that science would be of greater human value if it were more rigorous — we suffer not from too much scientific rationality, but too little. The author discusses the need for a revolution in the aims of science and academic inquiry in general and, in a lively and accessible style, spells out a thesis with profound importance for the long-term future of humanity. (shrink)
This paper aims to cast light on the reasons that explain the shift of opinion—from scepticism to realism—concerning the reality of atoms and molecules in the beginning of the twentieth century, in light of Jean Perrin’s theoretical and experimental work on the Brownian movement. The story told has some rather interesting repercussions for the rationality of accepting the reality of explanatory posits. Section 2 presents the key philosophical debate concerning the role and status of explanatory hypotheses c. 1900, focusing on (...) the work of Duhem, Stallo, Ostwald, Poincaré and Boltzmann. Section 3 examines in detail Perrin’s theoretical account of the molecular origins of Brownian motion, reconstructs the structure and explains the strength of Perrin’s argument for the reality of molecules. Section 4 draws three important lessons for the current debate over scientific realism. (shrink)
Many scientists, if pushed, may be inclined to hazard the guess that the universe is comprehensible, even physically comprehensible. Almost all, however, would vehemently deny that science has already established that the universe is comprehensible. It is, nevertheless, just this that I claim to be the case. Once one gets the nature of science properly into perspective, it becomes clear that the comprehensibility of the universe is as secure an item of current scientific knowledge as anything theoretical in science (...) can be, more secure, indeed, than the most firmly established fundamental theories of physics, such as quantum theory or Einstein's general theory of relativity. (shrink)
John Preston has contended that Paul Feyerabend retreated from his earlier commitment to realism and consciously embraced a ‘voluntarist’, social constructionist, idealism. Though there seems to be unmistakable subjective idealist statements in some of Feyerabend's writings, it will be argued that Feyerabend's idealistic period was short-lived, and that he returned to a form of realism in his later writings. Specifically, Feyerabend's distinction between theoretical/abstract and empirical/historical traditions of thought, when understood with Feyerabend's re evaluation of Bohr's philosophy of quantum physics (...) in mind, is most aptly interpreted as aprocess realist position. Preston, in interpreting Feyerabend as a voluntarist, social constructionist, subjective idealist, fails to distinguish the ever-present rhetorical and provocative statements of Feyerabend's from the core arguments being presented. (shrink)