Fifteen to twenty years ago one might have been forgiven for thinking that both the philosophy and history of science constituted specialized academic backwaters, far removed from debates in the forefront of either philosophic or public attention. But times have changed; science and technology have in many ways and in many guises become central foci of public debate, whether through concern over nuclear safety, the massive price to be paid for continued research in areas such as high energy physics, the (...) cost of high technology medicine, the spectre of genetic engineering, or the wonders of information processing and the computer revolution. At the same time that there is public questioning of the authority of expert scientific pronouncements and debate about the wisdom of courses of action proposed in the name of technology and progress, there is political pressure to direct eduction in an increasingly scientific and technological direction. But even so, in this country, the history and philosophy of science remain peripheral disciplines, not only in relation to the total academic scene but even in relation to philosophy, which is itself being academically marginalized. (shrink)
The thought that it might be possible to develop a method of scientific discovery, a procedure of investigation and reasoning which, so long as its principles were studiously followed, would be guaranteed to result in scientific knowledge, has long been recognized to be a mere philosophers' dream, with no more possibility of fulfilment than the alchemists' dream of producing a philosophers' stone which would turn base metals into gold. Yet it remains the case that the authority of science rests on (...) claims made on behalf of its methods; they are regarded as somehow superior to, or more reliable than, any other means of acquiring beliefs about the world around us. To say that there is no scientific evidence that any of the food additives currently permitted in Britain have any harmful effects is a way of dismissing as groundless and irrational the fears of those who think that such additives do have harmful effects. Whereas to say that it is scientifically established that smoking causes lung cancer is a way of saying that this is something a smoker ought to worry about. (shrink)
David Hilbert famously remarked, “No one will drive us from the paradise that Cantor has created.” This volume offers a guided tour of modern mathematics’ Garden of Eden, beginning with perspectives on the finite universe and classes and Aristotelian logic. Author MaryTiles further examines permutations, combinations, and infinite cardinalities; numbering the continuum; Cantor’s transfinite paradise; axiomatic set theory; logical objects and logical types; independence results and the universe of sets; and the constructs and reality of mathematical structure. (...) Philosophers and mathematicians will find an abundance of intriguing topics in this text, which is appropriate for undergraduate- and graduate-level courses. 1989 ed. 32 figures. (shrink)
This is the first critically evaluative study of Gaston Bachelard's philosophy of science to be written in English. Bachelard's professional reputation was based on his philosophy of science, though that aspect of his thought has tended to be neglected by his English-speaking readers. Dr Tiles concentrates here on Bachelard's critique of scientific knowledge. Bachelard emphasised discontinuities in the history of science; in particular he stressed the new ways of thinking about and investigating the world to be found in modern (...) science. This, as the author shows, is paralleled by recent debates among English-speaking philosophers about the rationality of science and the 'incommensurability' of different theories. To these problems Bachelard might be taken as offering an original solution: rather than see discontinuities as a threat to the objectivity of science, see them as products of the rational advancement of scientific knowledge. Dr Tiles sets out Bachelard's views and critically assesses them, reflecting also on the wider question of how one might assess potentially incommensurable positions in the philosophy of science as well as in science itself. (shrink)
This is the first critically evaluative study of Gaston Bachelard's philosophy of science to be written in English. Bachelard's professional reputation was based on his philosophy of science, though that aspect of his thought has tended to be neglected by his English-speaking readers. Dr Tiles concentrates here on Bachelard's critique of scientific knowledge. Bachelard emphasised discontinuities in the history of science; in particular he stressed the ways of thinking about and investigating the world to be found in modern science. (...) This, as the author shows, is paralleled by those debates among English-speaking philosophers about the rationality of science and the 'incommensurability' of different theories. To these problems Bachelard might be taken as offering an original solution: rather than see discontinuities as a threat to the objectivity of science, see them as products of the rational advancement of scientific knowledge. Dr Tiles sets out Bachelard's views and critically assesses them, reflecting also on the wider question of how one might assess potentially incommensurable positions in the philosophy of science as well as in science itself. (shrink)
Bruno Latour, as part of his advocacy of science studies urges us to move beyond what he calls ‘the Modernist Settlement’ that, among other things, separated science from politics and subject from object. As part of this project he has frequently called for the abolition of epistemology, including quite specifically the historical epistemology/epistemological history of Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem. Pierre Bourdieu, on the other hand, deploys the resources of historical epistemology, to dismiss Latour’s science studies. After examining the charges (...) against historical epistemology and their rebuttal, I rule in favor of the defense. However, I also suggest that Latour raises genuine concerns about how to equip ourselves to tackle problems such as those associated with climate change; these are problems that require engagement with the politics of nature, with the politics of the sciences of nature and with the epistemological challenges associated with the need to deploy multiple disciplines in the service of complex, practical, policy-relevant problem solving. (shrink)
Technology is no longer confined to the laboratory but has become an established part of our daily lives. Its sophistication offers us power beyond our human capacity which can either dazzle or threaten; it depends who is in control. _Living in a Technological Culture_ challenges traditionally held assumptions about the relationship between `man-and-machine'. It argues that contemporary science does not shape technology but is shaped by it. Neither discipline exists in a moral vacuum, both are determined by politics rather than (...) scientific inquiry. By questioning our existing uses of technology, this book opens up wider debate on the shape of things to come and whether we should be trying to change them now. As an introduction to the philosophy of technology this will be valuable to students, but will be equally engaging for the general reader. (shrink)
In this paper it is suggested that Canguilhem's examination of the history of the distinction between the normal and the pathological contains material of relevance to current debates about the nature of medicine, in particular concerning the status of quantitative indicators as indicators of the need for medical intervention. His arguments against the equation of health with normality are presented, together with his own suggested definition of health and the implications of this definition for physiology and medicine.
This introduction to the theory of knowledge argues for the continuing relevance of philosophical debates about knowledge by connecting them to issues of authority. The discussion takes the form of an essay in historical epistemology which treats the philosopher-politician Frnacis Bacon as its pivotal figure. This affords a non-Cartesian perspective on the transition to modern philosophy from which the distinctive configurations of the Cartesian framework can be discerned. The strategy is to use history as a route to a critical appraisal (...) of "modernism" without embracing post-modernism,Ancient Greek discussions of knowledge from Protagoras to Epicurus via Plato and Aristotle are introduced to illustrate the sense in which modern philosophy broke with ancient tradition while being at the same time conditioned by it. The Baconian vision was of human progress achieved through the acquisition of knowledge which makes domination of nature possible. The tensions inherent in this vision and the way in which they have worked to undermine it are illustrated by refesrence to the views of Kant and Hume and by tracing their consequences. (shrink)
This paper has two purposes. (1) To justify the claim that there is an important distinction underlying the saying/showing distinction of the Tractatus; the distinction which Kant characterises as that between historical and rational knowledge. (2) To argue that it is because the Tractatus accepts Frege/Russell logic as a complete representation of all thought according to laws, that what is shown cannot be recognised as knowledge. This is done by interpolating Frege's logical innovations between the views of Kant and Wittgenstein (...) on logic and mathematics. (shrink)
For as long as there has been anything worthy of the name of science, there have been those who have criticized its claim to superior knowledge. With the birth and prodigious growth of modern science, the corresponding growthof critical opinion led, in the eighteenth century, to a divorce of the sciences from the humanities around which our educational institutions, and our universities in particular, have been built. It is this divorce which renders problematic the status of the social or human (...) sciences. For the extent to which Man can be an object of scientific knowledge will be questioned by those insisting on an opposition between human knowledge and values as embodied in the humanities, and the dehumanized objective knowledge proclaimed within the natural sciences. (shrink)
To translate the Aristotelian square of opposition into Chinese requires restructuring the Aristotelian system of genus-species into the Chinese way of classification and understanding of the focus-field relationship. The feature of the former is on a tree model, while that of the later is on the focusfield model. Difficulties arise when one tries to show contraries betweenA- type and E-type propositions in the Aristotelian square of opposition in Chinese, because there is no clear distinction between universal and particular in a (...) focus-field structure of thinking. If there could be a chance to discuss the analytic identity between the two logical systems, then it might be only constituted during a face to face conversation in the present, or, in other words, in the translation of particular propositions (singular subjective,I-type, andO-type propositions) in a particular case. The best hope for a translator is that in the actual temporally situated practice,now he or she might find a temporary way to map the concepts of one to the other with relatively little loss of structure. (shrink)
The problem of hunger is a problem of the inequitable distribution of food entitlements. I argue that 'modern' science is implicated in the current form of this problem and that it can only contribute to its resolution, rather than exacerbation, if the forms of its implication are acknowledged. But this requires acceptance of the claim that science is not value-neutral. In part this paper is also an examination, in a particular problem context, of some dimensions of disputes over the value (...) neutrality of science. (shrink)
In this paper I try to problematize our conception of rational agency and to suggest that this conception is a matter of some practical and political significance. This is done on the one hand by indicating why more attention should be paid to the role of practical know-how, or skill, in the application of general laws or principles to particular cases, and on the other by looking to a Chinese model of efficacious action, where much attention is paid to cultivating (...) the skills required to make the transition from general to particular, albeit at the expense of recognizing the significance of what we would think of as scientific understanding. (shrink)
The stated aim of this small book is ‘to interpret the façcon de parler that V is the universe of all sets in a way that is faithful to what is actually done in set theory’. In this I think it succeeds and in the process seeks to account for the sense of many mathematicians that successive results in set theory are teaching us more about V ….
Global environmental science, in its current configuration as predominantly interdisciplinary earth systems analysis, owes its existence to technological development in three respects. (1) Environmental impacts of globalization of corporate and military industrial development linked to widespread use of new technologies prompted investigation of ways to understand and anticipate the global nature of such impacts. (2) Extension of the reach of technology itself demands extension of attempts to anticipate and control the environment in which the technology is to function. Thus as (...) the reach becomes global, the environment in question is also global. (3) Such global studies cannot get far without the development of command, control and information technologies (computers, satellites, automated remote sensing devices) which are crucial for data gathering, storage, and analysis and for the simulation modeling, crucial to theory testing and prediction. This network of dependence on technological development gives the global environmental sciences a rather distinctive epistemological profile, one in which some distinctions that we had thought were clear, on the basis of models of classic laboratory sciences (such as those between experiment and deduction or representation and instrument), turn out to be far from clear. In consequence there needs to be a careful evaluation of the extent to which, or the ways in which, these sciences can provide bases for policy decisions. (shrink)