“What is truth?” Pontius Pilot asked Jesus of Nazareth. For many educators today this question seems quaintly passé. Rejection of “truth” goes hand-in-hand with the rejection of epistemological realism. Educational thought over the last decade has instead been dominated by empiricist, anti-realist, instrumentalist epistemologies of two types: first by psychological constructivism and later by social constructivism. Social constructivism subsequently has been pressed to its logical conclusion in the form of relativistic multiculturalism. Proponents of both psychological constructivism and social constructivism value (...) knowledge for its utility and eschew as irrelevant speculation any notion that knowledge is actually about reality. The arguments are largely grounded in the discourse of science and science education where science is “western” science; neither universal nor about what is really real. The authors defended the notion of science as universal in a previous article. The present purpose is to offer a commonsense argument in defense of critical realism as an epistemology and the epistemically distinguished position of science (rather than privileged) within a framework of epistemological pluralism. The paper begins with a brief cultural survey of events during the thirty-year period from 1960–1990 that brought many educators to break with epistemological realism and concludes with comments on the pedagogical importance of realism. Understanding the cultural milieu of the past forty years is critical to understanding why traditional philosophical attacks on social constructivist ideas have proved impotent defenders of scientific realism. (shrink)
It is widely agreed among philosophers of science today that no formal pattern can possibly be found in the origins of scientific theory. There is no such thing as a "logic of discovery," insists this view--a scientific hypothesis is susceptible to methodological critique only in its relation to empirical consequences derived after the hypothesis itself has emerged through a spontaneous creative inspiration. Yet confronted with the tautly directed thrust of theory-building as actually practiced at the cutting edge of scientific research, (...) this romantic denial of method in the genesis of ideas takes on the appearance of myth. It is the contention of this article that as empirical data ramify in logical complexity, they deposit a hard sediment of theory according to a standard inductive pattern so primitively compelling that it must be recognized as one of the primary forms of inferential thought. This process, here called "ontological induction," is a distillation out of unwieldly observed regularities of more conceptually tractable states hypothesized to underlie them, and is the wellspring of our beliefs in theoretical entities. Previous failure to recognize this pattern of induction has undoubtedly been in substantial measure a result of inadequate attention to the structural details of scientific propositions; for in order to exhibit the nature of ontological induction clearly, it is first necessary to make extended forays through sparsely explored methodological terrain--notably, the nature of scientific "variables," the logical form of "laws," and the type-hierarchy of scientific concepts. (shrink)
In the opening to his late essay, Der Gedanke, Frege asserts without qualification that the word "true" points the way for logic. But in a short piece from his Nachlass entitled "My Basic Logical Insights", Frege writes that the word true makes an unsuccessful attempt to point to the essence of logic, asserting instead that "what really pertains to logic lies not in the word "true" but in the assertoric force with which the sentence is uttered". Properly understanding what Frege (...) takes to be at issue here is crucial for understanding his conception of logic and, in particular, what he takes to be its normative status vis-à-vis judgement, assertion, and inference. In this paper, I focus my attention on clarifying the latter claim and Frege's motivations for making it, exposing what I take to be a fundamental tension in Frege's conception of logic. Finally, I discuss whether Frege's deployment of the horizontal in his mature Begriffsschrift helps to resolve this tension. (shrink)
Efforts to bare the psychonomic nature of the semantic reference (representation) relation have been remarkably scanty; in fact, the only contemporary account developed with any care is the one proposed by Osgood. However, not even Osgood has looked deeply at the difficulties that beset any attempt to analyze reference in terms of common effects appropriately shared by a symbol and its significate.
Subjunctive conditionals have their uses, but constituting the meaning of dispositional predicates is not one of them. More germane is the analysis of dispositions in terms of "bases"--except that past efforts to maintain an ontic gap between dispositions and their bases, while not wholly misguided, have failed to appreciate the semantic birthright of dispositional concepts as a species of theoretical construct in primitive science.
We present an infinite-game characterization of the well-founded semantics for function-free logic programs with negation. Our game is a simple generalization of the standard game for negation-less logic programs introduced by van Emden [M.H. van Emden, Quantitative deduction and its fixpoint theory, Journal of Logic Programming 3 37–53] in which two players, the Believer and the Doubter, compete by trying to prove a query. The standard game is equivalent to the minimum Herbrand model semantics of logic programming in the sense (...) that a query succeeds in the minimum model semantics iff the Believer has a winning strategy for the game which begins with the Doubter doubting this query. The game for programs with negation that we propose follows the same rules as the standard one, except that the players swap roles every time the play “passes through” negation. We start our investigation by establishing the determinacy of the new game by using some classical tools from the theory of infinite-games. Our determinacy result immediately provides a novel and purely game-theoretic characterization of the semantics of negation in logic programming. We proceed to establish the connections of the game semantics to the existing semantic approaches for logic programming with negation. For this purpose, we first define a refined version of the game that uses degrees of winning and losing for the two players. We then demonstrate that this refined game corresponds exactly to the infinite-valued minimum model semantics of negation [P. Rondogiannis,W.W. Wadge, Minimum model semantics for logic programs with negation-as-failure, ACM Transactions on Computational Logic 6 441–467]. This immediately implies that the unrefined game is equivalent to the well-founded semantics. (shrink)