In this work Henry Kyburg presents his views on a wide range of philosophical problems associated with the study and practice of science and mathematics. The main structure of the book consists of a presentation of Kyburg's notions of epistemic probability and its use in the scientific enterprise i.e., the effort to modify previously adopted beliefs in the light of experience. Intended for cognitive scientists and people in artificial intelligence as well as for technically oriented philosophers, the book also provides (...) a general overview of the philosophy of science for the non-philosopher by one of the leading authorities in the field. (shrink)
This is an introductory survey to the philosophy of science suitable for beginners and nonspecialists. Its point of departure is the question: why should we believe what science tells us about the world? In this attempt to justify the claims of science the book treats such topics as observation data, confirmation of theories, and the explanation of phenomena. The writing is clear and concrete with detailed examples drawn from contemporary science: solar neutrinos, the gravitational bending of light, and the creation/evolution (...) debate, for example. What emerges is a view of science in which observation relies on theory to give it meaning and credibility, while theory relies on observation for its motivation and validation. It is shown that this reciprocal support is not circular since the theory used to support a particular observation is independent of the theory for which the observation serves as evidence. (shrink)
(Series copy) The new Oxford Readings in Feminism series maps the dramatic influence of feminist theory on every branch of academic knowledge. Offering feminist perspectives on disciplines from history to science, each book assembles the most important articles written on its field in the last ten to fifteen years. Old stereotypes are challenged and traditional attitudes upset in these lively-- and sometimes controversial--volumes, all of which are edited by feminists prominent in their particular field. Comprehensive, accessible, and intellectually daring, the (...) Oxford Readings in Feminism series is vital reading for anyone interested in the effects of feminist ideas within the academy. Can science be gender-neutral? In recent years, feminist critics have raised troubling questions about the practice and goals of traditional science, demonstrating the existence of a pervasive bias in the ways in which scientists conduct and discuss their work. This exciting volume gathers seventeen essays--by sociologists, scientists, historians, and philosophers--of seminal significance in the emerging field of feminist science studies. Analyzing topics from the stereotype of the "Man of Reason" to the "romantic" language of reproductive biology, these fascinating essays challenge readers to take a fresh look at the limitations--and possibilities--of scientific knowledge. (shrink)
Philosophers, historians, and sociologists of science have grown interested in the daily practices of scientists. Recent studies have drawn linkages between scientific innovations and more ordinary procedures, craft skills, and sources of sponsorship. These studies dispute the idea that science is the application of a unified method or the outgrowth of a progressive history of ideas. This book critically reviews arguments and empirical studies in two areas of sociology that have played a significant role in the 'sociological turn' in science (...) studies: ethnomethodology (the study of ordinary practical reasoning) and the sociology of scientific knowledge. In both fields, efforts to study scientific practices have led to intractable difficulties and debates, due in part to scientistic and foundationalist commitments that remain entrenched with social-scientific research policies and descriptive language. The central purpose of this book is to explore the possibility of an empirical approach to the epistemic contents of science that avoids the pitfalls of scientism and foundationalism. (shrink)
The belief that science shows an accumulation of a body of objective knowledge has been widely challenged by philosophers and historians in the latter half of this century. In this treatise, Dr. Jardine defends this belief with a careful appreciation of the complexities involved, drawing on many controversial issues concerning truth in science, interpretation of past theories, and grounds of scientific method.
Hume and the problem of theory and practice in philosophy and political theory -- Hume's naturalism and skepticism in the treatise and his appeal from theory to practice -- The systematic theory of theory of the treatise of human nature -- The behaviorist theory of practice of the treatise -- The practical philosophies of skepticism and commercial humanism -- The common sense theory of theory of the enquiries, essays, and history of England -- The common sense theory of practice of (...) the later works -- Hume, theory, and practice today. (shrink)
The nature and aim of science, by E. Nagel.--Truth and provability, by L. Henkin.--Completeness, by L. Henkin.--Computability, by S. C. Kleene.--Necessary truth, by W. V. Quine.--What is a scientific theory? By P. Suppes.--Science and simplicity, by N. Goodman.--Scientific explanation, by C. G. Hempel.--Observation and interpretation, by N. R. Hanson.--Probability and confirmation, by H. Putnam.--Utility and acceptance of hypotheses, by I. Levi.--Space and time, by A. Grünbaum.--Problems of microphysics, by P. Feyerabend.--Aspects of explanation in biological theory, by M. Beckner.--Psychologism and methodological (...) individualism, by S. Morgenbesser.--Science, fact, and value, by M. Scriven.--The justification of induction, by M. Black. (shrink)
This is the first comprehensive view of the work of scholars in several different disciplines contributing to the development of the psychology of science. This new field of inquiry is a systematic elaboration and application of psychological concepts and methods to clarify the nature of the scientific enterprise. While the psychology of science overlaps the philosophy, history, and sociology of science in important ways, its predominant focus is on individuals and small groups, rather than broad social institutions and concepts. The (...) introduction surveys the field and traces its evolution in a historical context. Several contributors address epistemological issues raised by the psychology of science. Subsequent chapters discuss developments in the cognitive psychology of science, scientific theory, and the influence of social relationships on scientists' work. The conclusion proposes an agenda for further progress in this new approach to understanding science. (shrink)
The use of mathematical models to support decision making is proliferating in both the public and private sectors. Advances in computer technology and greater opportunities to learn the appropriate techniques are extending modeling capabilities to more and more people. As powerful decision aids, models can be both beneficial or harmful. At present, few safeguards exist to prevent model builders or users from deliberately, carelessly, or recklessly manipulating data to further their own ends. Perhaps more importantly, few people understand or appreciate (...) that harm can be caused when builders or users fail to recognize the values and assumptions on which a model is based or fail to take into account all the groups who would be affected by a model's results. This volume provides a setting for a dialogue about ethics and shows the need to continue and define a vocabulary for exploring ethical concerns. It will become increasingly important for model builders and users to have a clear and strong code of ethics to guide them in making the ethical decisions they surely will have to face. (shrink)
Scientific uncertainty puzzles many people. The puzzlement arises when scientists have more than one answer, and disagree among themselves. This book helps people find their way through this maze of scientific contradiction and uncertainty. By acquainting them with the ways that uncertainty arises in science, how scientists accommodate and make use of uncertainty, and how they reach conclusions in the face of uncertainty, the book enables readers to confidently evaluate uncertainty from their own perspectives, in terms of their own experiences.
When physicist Alan Sokal recently submitted an article to the postmodernist journal Social Text, the periodical's editors were happy to publish it--for here was a respected scientist offering support for the journal's view that science is a subjective, socially constructed discipline. But as Sokal himself soon revealed in Lingua Franca magazine, the essay was a spectacular hoax--filled with scientific gibberish anyone with a basic knowledge of physics should have caught--and the academic world suddenly awoke to the vast gap that has (...) opened between the scientific community and their mould-be critics. But the truth is that not only postmodern critics but Americans in general have a weak grasp on scientific principles and facts. In Connected Knowledge, physicist Alan Cromer offers a way to bridge the chasm, with a lively, lucid account of scientific thinking and a provocative new agenda for American education. Science, Cromer argues, is anything but common sense: It requires a particular habit of mind that does not come naturally. For example, something as simple as buoyancy can only be explained through Archimedes' principle--that a body in a fluid is subject to an upward force equal to the weight of fluid it displaces--yet few scientists could arrive at this ancient concept by trial and error. School children, however, are often given a ball and a tank of water, and asked to explain buoyancy any way they can. Today's de emphasis on teaching pupils necessary facts and principles, he argues, "far from empowering them, makes them slaves of their own subjective opinions." This movement in education, known as Constructivism, has close ties to postmodern critics (such as the editors of Social Text) who question the objectivity of science, and with it the existence of an objective reality. Cromer offers a ringing defense of the knowability of the world, both as an objective reality and as a finite landscape of discovery. The advance of scientific knowledge, he argues, is not unlike the mapping of the continents; at this point, we have found them all. He shows how the advent of quantum mechanics, rather than making knowledge less certain, actually offers a more precise understanding of the behavior of atoms and electrons. Turning from philosophy to education, he argues that instead of allowing students to flounder, however creatively, schools should follow a progressive curriculum that returns theoretical knowledge to the classroom. Connected Knowledge, however, goes much farther. As a discipline that insists upon connecting theory with measurable reality, physical science offers a new direction for reforming the social sciences. Cromer also shows how some of the hottest issues in public policy--including the debates over special education and group variations in I.Q., can be resolved through clear, hard headed thinking. For example, he argues for use of the G.E.D. as a national educational standard, with a new "politics of intelligence" to guide the distribution of school resources. Always forthright and articulate, Alan Cromer offers a startling new vision for integrating science, philosophy, and education. (shrink)
This text provides an overview of debates in the sociology of technology, including definitions of the main terms and concepts and discussion of the dominant positions, especially in recent scholarship. At the same time, it develops a novel perspective on the subject based in critical theory, bridging work in the sociology of science and technology with wider debate in social theory. It integrates empirical and theoretical elements in well-themed chapters and draws on interesting contemporary examples such as mobile phones and (...) computer games to offer a distinctive sociological perspective on an important dimension of social life. (shrink)
In this wide-ranging book, Brian Davies discusses the basis for scientists' claims to knowledge about the world. He looks at science historically, emphasizing not only the achievements of scientists from Galileo onwards, but also their mistakes. He rejects the claim that all scientific knowledge is provisional, by citing examples from chemistry, biology and geology. A major feature of the book is its defense of the view that mathematics was invented rather than discovered. A large number of examples are used to (...) illustrate these points, and many of the deep issues in today's world discussed-from psychology and evolution to quantum theory, consciousness and even religious belief. Disentangling knowledge from opinion and aspiration is a hard task, but this book provided a clear guide to the difficulties. (shrink)
During the last three decades, reflections on the growth of scientific knowledge have inspired historians, sociologists, and some philosophers to contend that scientific objectivity is a myth. In this book, Kitcher attempts to resurrect the notions of objectivity and progress in science by identifying both the limitations of idealized treatments of growth of knowledge and the overreactions to philosophical idealizations. Recognizing that science is done not by logically omniscient subjects working in isolation, but by people with a variety of personal (...) and social interests, who cooperate and compete with one another, he argues that, nonetheless, we may conceive the growth of science as a process in which both our vision of nature and our ways of learning more about nature improve. Offering a detailed picture of the advancement of science, he sets a new agenda for the philosophy of science and for other "science studies" disciplines. (shrink)
Critiques of Knowing explores what happens to science and computing when we think of them as texts. Lynette Hunter elegantly weaves together such vast areas of thought as rhetoric, politics, AI, computing, feminism, science studies, aesthetics and epistemology. This book shows us that what we need is a radical shake-up of approaches to the arts if the critiques of science and computing are to come to any fruition.
Why believe in the findings of science? John Ziman argues that scientific knowledge is not uniformly reliable, but rather like a map representing a country we cannot visit. He shows how science has many elements, including alongside its experiments and formulae the language and logic, patterns and preconceptions, facts and fantasies used to illustrate and express its findings. These elements are variously combined by scientists in their explanations of the material world as it lies outside our everyday experience. John Ziman’s (...) book offers at once a valuably clear account and a radically challenging investigation of the credibility of scientific knowledge, searching widely across a range of disciplines for evidence about the perceptions, paradigms and analogies on which all our understanding depends. (shrink)
The incredible achievements of modern scientific theories lead most of us to embrace scientific realism: the view that our best theories offer us at least roughly accurate descriptions of otherwise inaccessible parts of the world like genes, atoms, and the big bang. In Exceeding Our Grasp, Stanford argues that careful attention to the history of scientific investigation invites a challenge to this view that is not well represented in contemporary debates about the nature of the scientific enterprise. The historical record (...) of scientific inquiry, Stanford suggests, is characterized by what he calls the problem of unconceived alternatives. Past scientists have routinely failed even to conceive of alternatives to their own theories and lines of theoretical investigation, alternatives that were both well-confirmed by the evidence available at the time and sufficiently serious as to be ultimately accepted by later scientific communities. Stanford supports this claim with a detailed investigation of the mid-to-late 19th century theories of inheritance and generation proposed in turn by Charles Darwin, Francis Galton, and August Weismann. He goes on to argue that this historical pattern strongly suggests that there are equally well-confirmed and scientifically serious alternatives to our own best theories that remain currently unconceived. Moreover, this challenge is more serious than those rooted in either the so-called pessimistic induction or the underdetermination of theories by evidence, in part because existing realist responses to these latter challenges offer no relief from the problem of unconceived alternatives itself. Stanford concludes by investigating what positive account of the spectacularly successful edifice of modern theoretical science remains open to us if we accept that our best scientific theories are powerful conceptual tools for accomplishing our practical goals, but abandon the view that the descriptions of the world around us that they offer are therefore even probably or approximately true. (shrink)
Most people believe that science arose as a natural end-product of our innate intelligence and curiosity, as an inevitable stage in human intellectual development. But physicist and educator Alan Cromer disputes this belief. Cromer argues that science is not the natural unfolding of human potential, but the invention of a particular culture, Greece, in a particular historical period. Indeed, far from being natural, scientific thinking goes so far against the grain of conventional human thought that if it hadn't been discovered (...) in Greece, it might not have been discovered at all. In Uncommon Sense, Alan Cromer develops the argument that science represents a radically new and different way of thinking. Using Piaget's stages of intellectual development, he shows that conventional thinking remains mired in subjective, "egocentric" ways of looking at the world--most people even today still believe in astrology, ESP, UFOs, ghosts and other paranormal phenomena--a mode of thought that science has outgrown. He provides a fascinating explanation of why science began in Greece, contrasting the Greek practice of debate to the Judaic reliance on prophets for acquiring knowledge. Other factors, such as a maritime economy and wandering scholars (both of which prevented parochialism) and an essentially literary religion not dominated by priests, also promoted in Greece an objective, analytical way of thinking not found elsewhere in the ancient world. He examines India and China and explains why science could not develop in either country. In China, for instance, astronomy served only the state, and the private study of astronomy was forbidden. Cromer also provides a perceptive account of science in Renaissance Europe and of figures such as Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton. Along the way, Cromer touches on many intriguing topics, arguing, for instance, that much of science is essential complete; there are no new elements yet to be discovered. He debunks the vaunted SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project, which costs taxpayers millions each year, showing that physical limits--such as the melting point of metal--put an absolute limit on the speed of space travel, making trips to even the nearest star all but impossible. Finally, Cromer discusses the deplorable state of science education in America and suggests several provocative innovations to improve high school education, including a radical proposal to give all students an intensive eighth and ninth year program, eliminating the last two years of high school. Uncommon Sense is an illuminating look at science, filled with provocative observations. Whether challenging Thomas Kuhn's theory of scientific revolutions, or extolling the virtues of Euclid's Elements, Alan Cromer is always insightful, outspoken, and refreshingly original. (shrink)
In a career spanning sixty years, Sir Karl Popper has made some of the most important contributions to the twentieth century discussion of science and rationality. The Myth of the Framework is a new collection of some of Popper's most important material on this subject. Sir Karl discusses such issues as the aims of science, the role that it plays in our civilization, the moral responsibility of the scientist, the structure of history, and the perennial choice between reason and revolution. (...) In doing so, he attacks intellectual fashions (like positivism) that exagerrate what science and rationality have done, as well as intellectual fashions (like relativism) that denigrate what science and rationality can do. Scientific knowledge, according to Popper, is one of the most rational and creative of human achievements, but it is also inherently fallible and subject to revision. In place of intellectual fashions, Popper offers his own critical rationalism - a view that he regards both as a theory of knowlege and as an attitude towards human life, human morals and democracy. Published in cooperation with the Central European University. (shrink)
What is science? How is scientific knowledge affected by the society that produces it? Does scientific knowledge directly correspond to reality? Can we draw a line between science and pseudo-science? Will it ever be possible for computers to undertake scientific investigation independently? Is there such a thing as feminist science? In this book the author addresses questions such as these using a technique of 'cognitive play', which creates and explores new links between the ideas and results of contemporary history, philosophy, (...) and sociology of science. New ideas and approaches are applied to a wide range of case studies, many of them from controversial and contested science. This book will be of interest to historians and sociologists of science, to anyone interested in science studies, and to educated general readers with an interest in the history, philosophy, and social context of science. (shrink)