Since educators are always looking for ways to improve their practice, and since empirical science is now accepted in our worldview as the final arbiter of truth, it is no surprise they have been lured toward cognitive neuroscience in hopes that discovering how the brain learns will provide a nutshell explanation for student learning in general. I argue that identifying the person with the brain is scientism (not science), that the brain is not the person, and that it is the (...) person who learns. In fact the brain only responds to the learning of embodied experience within the extra-neural network of intersubjective communications. Learning is a dynamic, cultural activity, not a neural program. Brain-based learning is unnecessary for educators and may be dangerous in that a culturally narrow ontology is taken for granted, thus restricting our creativity and imagination, and narrowing the human community. (shrink)
Scientism is a philosophy which purports to define what the world ‘really is’. It adopts what the philosopher Thomas Nagel called ‘an epistemological criterion of reality’, defining what is real as that which can be discovered by certain quite specific methods of investigation. As a consequence all features of experience not revealed by those methods are deemed ‘subjective’ in a way that suggests they are either not real, or lie beyond the scope of meaningful rational inquiry. This devalues capacities that (...) (we argue) are in fact essential components of good reasoning and virtuous practice. Ultimately, the implications of scientism for statements of value undermine value-judgements essential for science itself to have a sound basis. Scientism has implications, therefore, for ontology, epistemology and also for which claims we can assert as objective truths about the world. Adopting scientism as a world view will have consequences for reasoning and decision-making in clinical and other contexts. We analyse the implications of this approach and conclude that we need to reject scientism if we are to avoid stifling virtuous practice and to develop richer conceptions of human reasoning. (shrink)
In my ‘Seven Sins of Pseudo-Science’ (Journal for General Philosophy of Science 1993) I argued against Grünbaum that Freud commits all Seven Sins of Pseudo-Science. Yet how does Freud manage to fool many people, including such a sophisticated person as Grünbaum? My answer is that Freud is a sophisticated pseudo-scientist, using all Seven Strategies of the Sophisticated Pseudo-Scientist to keep up appearances, to wit, (1) the Humble Empiricist, (2) the Severe Selfcriticism, (3) the Unbiased Me, (4) the Striking (...) but Irrelevant Example, (5) the Proof Given Elsewhere, (6) the Favorable Compromise, and (7) the Display of Methodological Sophistication. One should note that not all strategies are disreputable in themselves. But all are used very cunningly so as to hide weaknesses in Freud's arguments. To be fair, quite a few of his methodological remarks are sophisticated enough. As Freud combines these sophisticated remarks with an appalling methodology in practice, I call him a sophisticated pseudo-scientist. I do not claim that these rhetorical strategies are specific to him. (shrink)
Reasons for the limited uptake of the clinician–scientist role within nursing are examined, specifically: the lack of consensus about the nature of nursing science; the varying approaches to epistemology; and the influence of post-modern thought on knowledge development in nursing. It is suggested that under-development of this role may be remedied by achieving agreement that science is a necessary, worthy pursuit for nursing, and that rigorous science conducted from a clinical perspective serves nursing well. Straddling practice and research is (...) a powerful strategy for ensuring relevant research while forging strong links with practice. The clinician–scientist role, typically requiring a 75:25 ratio between research and clinical activities, is well established in medicine. Nursing, however, has been slow to institute the role; it is rare within North America, Australia, and western European countries, and almost non-existent outside those areas. Beyond structural obstacles, philosophical issues may explain nursing's reluctance to implement the role. Following a survey of clinician–scientist roles throughout the world, the nature of nursing science and epistemology, and the influence of post-modern thought on nursing attitudes to research are examined with respect to their influence on this role. The nurse clinician–scientist role holds promise for making strides in clinically relevant research, and for accelerating the knowledge cycle from clinical problem to research question to change in clinical practice. (shrink)
n this paper, I examine the charge that Gopnik and Meltzoff’s ‘Child as Scientist’ program, outlined and defended in their 1997 book Words, Thoughts and Theories is vitiated by a form of ‘cognitive individualism’ about science. Although this charge has often been leveled at Gopnik and Meltzoff’s work, it has rarely been developed in any detail. -/- I suggest that we should distinguish between two forms of cognitive individualism which I refer to as ‘ontic’ and ‘epistemic’ cognitive individualism (OCI (...) and ECI respectively). I then argue - contra Ronald Giere – that Gopnik and Meltzoff’s commitment to OCI is relatively unproblematic, since it is an easily detachable part of their view. By contrast, and despite their explicit discussion of the issue, their commitment to ECI is much more problematic. (shrink)
I show how scientism leads to deconstruction and both, in turn, lead to nihilism. Nihilism constitutes a denial both of the existence of fallacious moral reasoning and the existence of a moral dimension to fallacious reasoning. I argue against all of these positions by maintaining that (1) there is a pre-theoretical framework of norms within which technical thinking function, (2) the pre-theoretical framework cannot itself be technically conceptualized, and (3) the explication of this framework permits us to identify both fallacies (...) of moral reasoning and the immorality of fallacious reasoning. (shrink)
During the 1920s and 1930s geneticist L. C. Dunn of Columbia University cautioned Americans against endorsing eugenic policies and called attention to eugenicists' less than rigorous practices. Then, from the mid-1940s to early 1950s he attacked scientific racism and Nazi Rassenhygiene by co-authoring Heredity, Race and Society with Theodosius Dobzhansky and collaborating with members of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) on their international campaign against racism. Even though shaking the foundations of scientific discrimination was Dunn's primary concern (...) during the interwar and post-World War II years, his campaigns had ancillary consequences for the discipline. He contributed to the professionalization of genetics during the 1920s and 1930s and sought respectability for human genetics in the 1940s and 1950s. My article aims to elucidate the activist scientist's role in undermining scientific discrimination by exploring aspects of Dunn's scientific work and political activism from the 1920s to 1950s. Definitions are provided for scientific discrimination and activist scientist. (shrink)
Alison Gopnik and Andrew Meltzoff have argued for a view they call the ‘theory theory’: theory change in science and children are similar. While their version of the theory theory has been criticized for depending on a number of disputed claims, we argue that there is a fundamental problem which is much more basic: the theory theory is multiply ambiguous. We show that it might be claiming that a similarity holds between theory change in children and (i) individual scientists, (ii) (...) a rational reconstruction of a Superscientist, or (iii) the scientiﬁc community. We argue that (i) is false, (ii) is non-empirical (which is problematic since the theory theory is supposed to be a bold empirical hypothesis), and (iii) is either false or doesn’t make enough sense to have a truth-value. We conclude that the theory theory is an interesting failure. Its failure points the way to a full, empirical picture of scientiﬁc development, one that marries a concern with the social dynamics of science to a psychological theory of scientiﬁc cognition. 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. (shrink)
This paper argues that there are powerful similarities between cognitive development in children and scientific theory change. These similarities are best explained by postulating an underlying abstract set of rules and representations that underwrite both types of cognitive abilities. In fact, science may be successful largely because it exploits powerful and flexible cognitive devices that were designed by evolution to facilitate learning in young children. Both science and cognitive development involve abstract, coherent systems of entities and rules, theories. In both (...) cases, theories provide predictions, explanations, and interpretations. In both, theories change in characteristic ways in response to counterevidence. These ideas are illustrated by an account of children's developing understanding of the mind. (shrink)
The question whether a scientist can be responsible for an outcome of her work which she does not foresee, and so is ignorant of, is addressed. It is argued that ignorance can be a ground for the attribution of responsibility, on condition that there are general principles, rules or norms, that the subject should be aware of. It is maintained that there are such rules which inform the practice of science as a social institution.
Denying Evolution aims at taking a fresh look at the evolution–creation controversy. It presents a truly “balanced” treatment, not in the sense of treating creationism as a legitimate scientific theory (it demonstrably is not), but in the sense of dividing the blame for the controversy equally between creationists and scientists—the former for subscribing to various forms of anti-intellectualism, the latter for discounting science education and presenting science as scientism to the public and the media. The central part of the book (...) focuses on a series of creationist fallacies (aimed at showing errors of thought, not at deriding) and of mistakes by scientists and science educators. The last part of the book discusses long-term solutions to the problem, from better science teaching at all levels to the necessity of widespread understanding of how the brain works and why people have difficulties with critical thinking. (shrink)
In this article I try to define more precisely what scientism is and how it is related to a traditional religion such as Christianity. By first examining the writing of a number of contemporary natural scientists (Francis Crick, Richard Dawkins, Stephen Hawking, Carl Sagan and Edward O. Wilson), I show that the concept can be given numerous different meanings. I propose and defend a distinction between epistemic, rationalistic, ontological, axiological and redemptive scientism and it is also explained why we should (...) not directly identify scientism with scientific materialism or scientific naturalism. (shrink)
Naturalists seek continuity between epistemology and science. Critics argue this illegitimately expands science into epistemology and commits the fallacy of scientism. Must naturalists commit this fallacy? I defend a conception of naturalized epistemology which upholds the non-identity of epistemic ends, norms, and concepts with scientific evidential ends, norms, and concepts. I argue it enables naturalists to avoid three leading scientistic fallacies: dogmatism, one dimensionalism, and granting science an epistemic monopoly.
Looking at Hobbes' theory of thinking as calculation and truth by convention shows that a certain type of scientism of the mind leads to fundamental problems. If truth is the artefact of social conventions about signs, and if thinking is nothing but the syntactical transformations of sign, a theory of thinking must have both: a strong concept of natural computation and a social theory of establishing sign-conventions. Hobbes does not, like modern physicalist theories of the mind, have both.
Writing more than a century apart, William James and Marilynne Robinson are allies in forcefully and eloquently challenging the claims and widespread appeal of scientism or positivism: the belief that scientific knowledge provides a necessary and sufficient worldview and entails the reduction of all reality, including the world of human subjects, to physical processes. Both James and Robinson are particularly concerned with and critical of the efforts of scientistic reductionism to describe the human life-world entirely in terms of the prevailing (...) science. Both distinguish sharply between scientific inquiry, an essential and crucially valuable human activity, and scientism, the promotion of a metaphysical agenda .. (shrink)
Of late, two contrasting departures from the analytic mainstream have become fashionable: the displacement of philosophy by the natural sciences, epitomized by the Churchlands' theme of "neurophilosophy," and the displacement of philosophy by the literary, epitomized by Rorty's theme of philosophy as "just a kind of writing," as "carrying on the conversation" of Western culture. Both are disastrous. My purpose here is to articulate a metaphilosophy which, avoiding both scientism and literary dilettantism, allows a more robustly plausible account of the (...) relation of philosophy to the sciences, and of its relation to literature, than either. In this enterprise, my starting point will be the work of C. S. Peirce. This may come as something as a surprise; for Peirce's avowed aspiration "to rescue the good ship Philosophy for the service of Science from the lawless rovers of the sea of literature" (5.449, 1902), not to mention his unkind remarks about "studying in a literary spirit" (1.33, 1869), might suggest that he is as scientistic, and as hostile to literature, as Rorty is dilettantish, and hostile to science. But, as I shall show, far from being a precursor of those "lawless rovers of the sea of science" among our contemporaries, Peirce points the way to just such a... (shrink)
I distinguish three matters about which decisions have to be made in scientific activities: (1) adoption of strategy; (2) acceptance of data, hypotheses, and theories; and (3) application of scientific knowledge. I argue that, contrary to the common view that only concerning (3) do values have a legitimate role, value judgments often play indispensable roles in connection with decisions concerning (1)—that certain values may not only be furthered by applications of the scientific knowledge gained under a strategy, but they may (...) also provide a primary reason for conducting research under the strategy. However, this is compatible with making decisions concerning (2) that in no way draw upon values. While, in my opinion, this account applies to all the sciences, it has special salience in the behavioral and cognitive sciences. The behavioral scientist, qua scientist, makes value judgments when making decisions about which strategy to adopt, but not when deciding which theories to accept as providing knowledge and understanding of specified domains of phenomena. (shrink)
In this short response we show that Kevin Smith's moral and ethical rejections of homeopathy1 are fallacious and rest on questionable epistemology. Further, we suggest Smith's presumption of a utilitarian stance is an example of scientism encroaching into medicine.
Dynamic systems theory is a way of describing the patterns that emerge from relationships in the universe. In the study of interpersonal relationships, within and between species, the scientist is an active and engaged participant in those relationships. Separation between self and other, scientist and subject, runs counter to systems thinking and creates an unnecessary divide between humans and animals.
The problems of the social responsibility of the scientist became a subject of public debate after the World War II in Japan, thanks to the activities and publications of Yukawa and Tomonaga. And such authors as J. Karaki, M.Taketani, Y. Murakami, and S. Fujinaga continued discussion in their books. However, many people seem to be still unaware of the most important source of these problems. As I see it, one of the most important treatments of these problems was the (...) Franck Report (June 11, 1945) submitted to the US government by James Franck (chairman) toward the end of the war. This Report contains many important ideas and suggestions as regards the responsibility of the scientist, the morality of the use of atomic bombs, the prospective nuclear armaments race, and the possibility of international control of nuclear power. However, I should like to concentrate only on the first topic in this paper. Why did Franck and his committee at Metallurgical Laboratory of the University of Chicago feel the urgent need for writing and submitting this Report? According to the Report, "in the past, scientists could disclaim direct responsibility for the use to which mankind had put their disinterested discoveries. We cannot take the same attitude now because the success which we have achieved in the development of nuclear power is fraught with infinitely greater dangers than were all the inventions of the past." (I. Preamble) This passage seems to contain the crux of our problem: These scientists clearly recognize the "new" responsibility for them, and the ground of this responsibility is also clear enough; i.e., when a new scientific discovery or invention turns out to have grave bearings on human interests, the scientists who became aware of that are responsible for notifying people of this and advise to look for suitable means for avoiding prospective dangers. In the rest of the paper, I elaborate the reasoning behind the preceding passage, and confirm that basically the same idea and reasoning has been repeated and developed in Russell-Einstein Manifesto (1955), by Pugwash Conferences (first in 1957), by Tomogana, and by Rotblat (the long-time Secretary of Pugwash, who received the Nobel Peace Prize together with the Conference in 1995). (shrink)
Professor Sir Joseph Rotblat was one of the most distinguished scientists and peace campaigners of the post second world war period. He made significant contributions to nuclear physics and worked on the development of the atomic bomb. He then became one of the world’s leading researchers into the biological effects of radiation. His life from the early 1950s until his death in August 2005 was devoted to the abolition of nuclear weapons and peace. For this he was awarded the Nobel (...) Peace Prize, together with Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs (that he helped found) in 1995. His work in this area ranked with that of Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell and this article is an attempt to summarise his life, achievements, but in particular outline his views on the moral responsibilities of the scientist. He is a towering intellectual figure and his contributions to mankind should be better known and more widely understood. (shrink)
Speakers of the “green backlash” movement frequently advertise their approach as one of rigorous scepticism, and themselves as defenders of scientific method. In reality, their use of scepticism is often highly flawed and inconsistent; this is clearly seen in case examples focusing on Philip Stott's arguments on climate change, and Julian Simon's arguments on physical limits to growth. What this discourse illustrates is that sceptical language is often used as a rhetorical tool for advancing an underlying political philosophy that is (...) based on an ideal of modern science as bestower of unlimited material power. In order to understand, and to criticise this discourse effectively, one needs to recall the criticisms made by the likes of Hayek and Arendt of “scientism”—the misuse of the language of science, and its aura of predictive certainty, to portray certain political visions as being inevitably true and triumphant. (shrink)
The paper suggests a critique of scientism by revealing the existential genesis of knowledge-constitutive interests in scientific research. This scenario of overcoming scientism is spelled out in terms of the doctrine of cognitive existentialism. On the doctrine?s central claim, a knowledge-constitutive interest is not fixed and determined by a strongly situated epistemic position that is distinguished by invariant norms of theorizing, methodological devices, cognitive aims, goals, and values. In reflecting upon its situated transcendence, scientific research has a potentiality for discarding (...) that form of objectivist realism which is pre-supposed by the ideology of scientism. The paper develops arguments against the essentialist picture of scientific research shared by philosophers as different as Heidegger and Habermas. (shrink)
Plato, in his dialog Charmides, presents the question of how society can determine whether a person who claims superior expertise in a particular field of knowledge does, in fact, possess superior expertise. In the modern era, society tends to answer this question by funding institutions (universities) that award credentials to certain individuals, asserting that those individuals possess a particular expertise; and then other institutions (the journalistic media and government) are expected to defer to the credentials. When, however, the sequential reasoning (...) and theorizing and conclusion-stating of generation after generation of credential-bearing experts (i.e., scientists) leads to the assertion of the truth of statements that large segments of society find to be in conflict with the statements of persons who have earned credentials of expertise bestowed by an alternative institutional structure (i.e., religious teachers), representatives of the people are put to a choice. And when the conflicting statements present substantial implications for the moral and sexual behavior of people in the society, addressing the conflict brings into play not only the highest intellectual speculations and analyses, but also the most animal emotions and motivations. This paper, taking the form of a dialog, presents a scientist (Avram Codosia) named after an ancient Jewish patriarch and makes him a supplicant to a U.S. Senator (Helen Astartian) named after a pagan goddess. The stakes turn out to be not merely financial and intellectual, but personal and moral, involving the scientist's son (Isaac), an art student, and the senator's niece (Halia), a philosophy student. In a four-phase encounter, the paper hopes to offer some innovative observations on age-old issues and to stimulate productive new thinking on questions that too often seem to be debated by means of repetitions of the same old points. (shrink)
Following Mr. Bixby and some other 19th century scientist-philosophers such as Claude Bernard, relevant scientific actions should, as a matter of primary importance, be explained with reference to the competence and not to the intentions of those involved. The background is a reliabilist virtue approach - a widespread tendency in 19th century epistemology and philosophy of science. Bixby's approach includes a critique of some constructivist arguments and establishes a mutually supportive connection to conceptions of scientific progress.
There is no question that the work of John Dewey has been invaluable with regard to theories of education. What has too often been neglected, however, is Dewey's work on the philosophy of science as it pertains specifically to science education.1 Although educators might well concede that children should be encouraged to be "philosophical" within the arts or humanities, most neglect or fail to heed Dewey's insights concerning the child as philosopher-scientist within the science classroom. Dewey recognized that children (...) were too often taught "science" while not learning "the scientific way of treating the familiar material of ordinary experience" (MW 9: 228). The view of science as a nonphilosophical, highly .. (shrink)
Surgeons have often been portrayed in literature on one of two extremes: the cold, distant scientist or the benign, caring humanist. Two characters in American literature who illustrate those extremes, both surgeons in the military, are Herman Melville's Cadwallader Cuticle and Richard Hooker's Hawkeye Pierce. Cuticle is interested only in the science of his craft, while Pierce maintains the compassion so central to the art of healing, even in the midst of war.
Joseph Priestley was one of the most remarkable thinkers of the eighteenth century. Best known today as the scientist who discovered oxygen, he also made major contributions in the fields of education, politics, philosophy, and theology. This collection of essays by a team of experts covers the full range of Priestley's work and provides a new and up to date account of all his activities, together with a summary of his life and an account of his last years in (...) America. The book will re-establish him as a major intellectual figure in Britain and America in the second half of the eighteenth century. (shrink)
This article examines the notion of the `scientist as a moral person' in the light of the early stages of the commodification of science and the transformation of research into a big enterprise, operating on the principle of the division of labour. These processes were set in train at the end of the 19th century. The article focuses on the concomitant changes in the public persona and the habitus of scientific entrepreneurs. I begin by showing the significance of the (...) professional networks that were built up and maintained to further a group's research ideas and the careers of its members, thus demonstrating one condition on which depended their practice of science and their ability to earn a living. This leads to a characterization of the changing styles of work, thought and life, and to a consideration of public perceptions and of the ways in which a new self-image of scholarship and science was fashioned. A critical discussion of the public role of these mandarin scientists follows in order to highlight the strains created by the commodification of science at a time of international tensions and conflicts, when shared beliefs in scholarly cosmopolitanism were subverted by appeals to science and scholarship to work in the service of one's own nation as its `courtiers'. Various considerations of peculiar analogies between national styles of research and the style of social organization are then noted. In the final section, the article queries the long-term impact of these developments on the ideal of the scientist as a `moral person'. Taking a cue from Max Weber and pursuing reflections by Zygmunt Bauman on `science moralized', I argue that the emergence of a type of `specialists without spirit' was an unintended but fatal consequence of the changes in research practices promoted by scientific entrepreneurs such as Du Bois-Reymond. I conclude that the temptation to sever the ties to a general ethos of civil virtues lay in the rationalization, specialization and potential de-humanization of the objectifying scientific outlook once advocated for its efficiency. (shrink)
This paper looks at nine different ways of defining scientism in order to show that potential definitions of the term conform to a general pattern: a definition of scientism either is self-defeating or else cannot really count as a construal of scientism in the first place. Advocates for the experimental sciences would therefore be better off accepting a middle position—one might say a broadly Thomistic approach to science—between the extremes of scientism on the one hand and a religious fundamentalism that (...) ignores the important contributions of the experimental sciences on the other. Such a middle position recognizes both the intellectual significance and the inherent limitations of the scientific method employed within the experimental sciences. (shrink)
Venkataramanaiah, V. Introduction.--Narla, V. R. Russell and his rejection of religion.--Mehta, G. L. The sceptical crusader.--Dalvi, G. R. Russell, the man.--Venkatarao, V. The nuclear war and the future of man.--Innaiah, N. Bertrand Russell's philosophy.--Subbarayudu, P. Rationality vis-a-vis faith.--Nageswar Rao, B. Russell and nuclear warfare.--Rajagopala Rao, M. Rebel in Russell.--Shankar, G. N. J. The man who revolutionised modern thought.--Maharajasri. Russell, the social scientist in the four-dimensional universe.--The life of Bertrand Russell.--Acknowledgements.--A list of principal works of Bertrand Russell.--Russell's conception of good (...) society in a democratic socialist order.--Objects. (shrink)
This paper traces the historical roots of the “mad scientist,” a concept that has powerfully shaped the public image of science up to today, by investigating the representations of chemists in nineteenth-century Western literature. I argue that the creation of this literary figure was the strongest of four critical literary responses to the emergence of modern science in general and of chemistry in particular. The role of chemistry in this story is crucial because early nineteenth-century chemistry both exemplified modern (...) experimental laboratory research and induced, due to its rapid growth, a ramification and fragmentation of knowledge that undermined former ideals of the unity of knowledge under the umbrella of metaphysics and religion. Because most writers considered contemporary chemistry an offspring of “wrong alchemy,” all four responses drew on the medieval literary figure of the “mad alchemist” to portray chemists. Whereas early writers considered the quest for scientific knowledge to be altogether in vain, later writers pointed out the narrow-minded goals and views specifically of chemistry. A third response moved that criticism to a metaphysical and religious level, by relating chemistry to materialism, nihilism, atheism and hubris. The fourth response, the “mad scientist,” elaborated on the hubris theme by attaching moral perversion to the “mad alchemist.”. (shrink)
Han Fei was one of the main proponents of Legalism in Qin -era China. Although his works are mostly read from a historic perspective, the aim of this paper is to advance an interpretation of Han Fei as a “social scientist”. The social sciences are the fields of academic scholarship that study society and its institutions as a consequence of human behavior. Methodologically, social sciences combine abstract approaches in model-building with empiric investigations, seeking to prove the functioning of the (...) models. In a third step, social sciences also aim at providing policy advice. Han Fei can be read as operating similarly. First, he builds a model of the nature of men, the state, and its interconnections, and then he uses history as empiric ground to prove his models. Again, after studying society as a “raw fact”, Han Fei develops models on how to deal with “society”. This article examines the “social scientific” inclinations of Han Fei by re-reading Chapter 49 of his book and applying an analysis in “historical correspondence”. This article serves as a case-study in this new type of analysis that can prove fruitful for the advancement of comparative philosophy. (shrink)
The remarkable transition from helpless infant to sophisticatedfive-year-old has long captured the attention of scholars interested inthe discovery of knowledge. To explain these achievements, developmentalpsychologists often compare children's discovery procedures to those ofprofessional scientists. For the child to be qualified as a ``littlescientist'', however, intellectual development must be shown to derivefrom rational hypothesis selection in the face of evidence. In thepresent paper we focus on one dimension of rational theory-choice,namely, the relation between hypothesis confirmation and evidencediversity. Psychological research suggests cultural (...) variability inappreciating evidence diversity and lack of such appreciation by youngchildren. Before reaching conclusions about the ``little scientist''thesis, however, it is essential to normatively analyze the diversityissue. We undertake such an analysis within a Bayesianperspective. (shrink)
Most economists will agree that Milton Friedman is a brilliant economist. Yet, the majority assessment is that his work is ideologically flawed, and that the Marshallian economics he advocates has been superseded by Walrasian economics. In this paper I argue that the reason for this negative assessment is that Friedman, like Alfred Marshall before him, tried to straddle a fence between policy and logical-deductive theory, combining the artistic science of the historical and institutional school with the logical-deductive science of economics (...) under a single category which Friedman called positive economics. This combination worked for Marshall, but did not work for Friedman, I argue that the profession's criticisms of Friedman stand, if he is viewed as a positive scientist as the profession currently defines positive economics - as logical deductive exercises. But that, I argue, is not how Friedman should be viewed; he should, instead, be viewed as an economic artist - as an applied policy economist extraordinaire - whose primary flaw has been his failure to make clear the importance of the artistic component of his economic science. (shrink)
Popular science writing is, for the most part, undertaken by two different, if sometimes intersecting, classes of author: the intelligent general writer, often a journalist who has a deep interest in a particular scientific subject; and the versatile scientist who can place easy hands on a keyboard. Some writers in the former group, such as Richard Rhodes, interweave personality and topic to produce a compelling narrative. Others, such as Roger Lewin, write so clearly and vividly that the essential features (...) of their subject stand out in bold relief, giving readers entrée to an often-forbidding scientific domain. Scientists who attempt the genre may display those same virtues, and the very best write with an authority that commands the attention not only of a literate public but of their colleagues as well. In their popular writing, these latter can even shift scientific discourse and bring forward new theories, or at least new perspectives. (shrink)
This article discusses the 2005 OUP biography of Michael Polanyi by William T. Scott and Martin X. Moleski S.J., Michael Polanyi, Scientist and Philosopher . The discussants are N. E. Wetherick, Brian G Gowenlock, and John Puddefoot; Martin X. Moleski, S. J. briefly responds, providing a previously unpulished letter from Polanyi to Reverend Dr. Knox, a Presbyterian mininster.
Public discussions of science are often marred by two pernicious phenomena: a widespread rejection of scientific findings (e.g., the reality of anthropogenic climate change, the conclusion that vaccines do not cause autism, or the validity of evolutionary theory), coupled with an equally common acceptance of pseudoscientific notions (e.g., homeopathy, psychic readings, telepathy, tall tales about alien abductions, and so forth). The typical reaction by scientists and science educators is to decry the sorry state of science literacy among the general public, (...) and to call for more science education as the answer to both problems. But the empirical evidence concerning the relationship between science literacy, rejection of science and acceptance of pseudoscience is mixed at best. In this chapter I argue that—while certainly important—efforts at increasing public knowledge of science (science education) need to be complemented by attention to common logical fallacies (philosophy), cognitive biases and dissonance (psychology), and the role of ideological commitments (sociology). Even this complex, multi-disciplinary approach to science education will likely only yield measurable results in the very long term. Meanwhile science remains, as Carl Sagan famously put it, a candle in the dark, delicate and in need of much nurturing. (shrink)
van Fraassen (The empirical stance, 2002) contrasts the empirical stance with the materialist stance. The way he describes them makes both of them attractive, and while opposed they have something in common for both stances are scientific approaches to philosophy. The difference between them reflects their differing conceptions of science itself. Empiricists emphasise fallibilism, verifiability and falsifiability, and also to some extent scepticism and tolerance of novel hypotheses. Materialists regard the theoretical picture of the world as matter in motion as (...) a true and explanatory account and insist on not taking ' spooky' entities or processes seriously as potential explanations of phenomena that so far lie outside the scope of successful science. The history of science shows us that both stances have been instrumental in the achievement of progress at various times. It is therefore plausible for a naturalist to suggest that science depends for its success on the dialectic between empiricism and materialism. A truly naturalist approach to philosophy ought then to synthesise them. Call the synthesized empiricist and materialist stances 4he scientistic stance'.This paper elaborates and defends it. (shrink)
A civic science curriculum is advocated. We discuss practical mechanisms for (and highlight the possible benefits of) addressing the relationship between scientific knowledge and civic responsibility coextensively with rigorous scientific content. As a strategy, we suggest an in-course treatment of well known (and relevant) historical and contemporary controversies among scientists over science policy or the use of sciences. The scientific content of the course is used to understand the controversy and to inform the debate while allowing students to see the (...) role of scientists in shaping public perceptions of science and the value of scientific inquiry, discoveries and technology in society. The examples of the activism of Linus Pauling, Alfred Nobel and Joseph Rotblat as scientists and engaged citizens are cited. We discuss the role of science professors in informing the social conscience of students and consider ways in which a treatment of the function of science in society may find, coherently, a meaningful space in a science curriculum at the college level. Strategies for helping students to recognize early the crucial contributions that science can make in informing public policy and global governance are discussed. (shrink)
The concept of innateness appears in systematic research within cognitive science, but it also appears in less systematic modes of thought that long predate the scientific study of the mind. The present studies therefore explore the relationship between the properly scientific uses of this concept and its role in ordinary folk understanding. Studies 1-4 examined the judgments of people with no specific training in cognitive science. Results showed (a) that judgments about whether a trait was innate were not affected by (...) whether or not the trait was learned, but (b) such judgments were impacted by moral considerations. Study 5 looked at the judgments of both non-scientists and scientists, in conditions that encouraged either thinking about individual cases or thinking about certain general principles. In the case-based condition, both non-scientists and scientists showed an impact of moral considerations but little impact of learning. In the principled condition, both non-scientists and scientists showed an impact of learning but little impact of moral considerations. These results suggest that both non-scientists and scientists are drawn to a conception of innateness that differs from the one at work in contemporary scientific research but that they are also both capable of 'filtering out' their initial intuitions and using a more scientific approach. (shrink)
Studies in the history, philosophy, sociology, and psychology of science and technology have gathered much information about important cases of scientific development. These cases usually concern the most successful scientists and inventors, such as Darwin, Einstein, and Edison. But case studies rarely address the question of what made these investigators more accomplished than the legions of scientific laborers whose names have been forgotten. This chapter is an attempt to identify many of the psychological and other factors that make some scientists (...) highly successful. I explore two sources of information about routes to scientific achievement. The first derives from a survey that Jeff Shrager conducted at the Workshop on Cognitive Studies of Science and Technology at the University of Virginia in March, 2001. He asked the participants to list “7 habits of highly creative people”, and after the workshop he and I compiled a list of habits recommended by the distinguished group of historians, philosophers, and psychologists at the workshop. My second source of information about the factors contributing to scientific success is advice given by three distinguished biologists who each won a Nobel prize: Santiago Ramón y Cajal, Peter Medawar, and James Watson. These biologists provide advice that usefully supplements the suggestions from the workshop participants. (shrink)