In this paper, I argue that neuroscience not only is not complemented, but rather is positively undermined, by the substantive commitments of materialist philosophers of mind. Thus, we can have neuroscience or "neurophilosophy" but not both. Since neuroscience is a real science, to the extent that it is in tension with materialistic neurophilosophy, the latter should be abandoned and the former retained.
In this article I probe the consequences and limits of the underdetermination thesis and the empirical equivalence thesis, using Laudan and Leplin's fecund article as a springboard. Although a realist at heart, my primary intention is not to undermine the anti-realist arguments but rather to try to precisify the challenge the realist, and more generally the participant in the scientific realism debate, faces.
Scientists and philosophers routinely talk about phenomena, and the ways in which they relate to explanation, theory and practice in science. However, there are very few definitions of the term, which is often used synonymously with "data'', "model'' and in older literature, "hypothesis''. In this paper I will attempt to clarify how phenomena are recognized, categorized and the role they play in scientific epistemology. I conclude that phenomena are not necessarily theory-based commitments, but that they are what explanations are called (...) to account for, which are not presently explained. (shrink)
Conventional scientific realism is just the doctrine that our theoretical terms refer. Conventional antirealism denies, for various reasons, theoretical reference and takes theory to give us only information about the word of the perceptual where reference, it would appear, is secure. But reference fails for the perceptual every bit as much for the perceptual as for the theoretical, and for the same reason: the world is too complicated for us to succeed in attaching specific referents to our terms. That would (...) appear to leave us with a kind of latter day, representational idealism: All we have are representations. I argue that our representations tell us about an independent world without securing reference by showing that the world is very like the way it is represented in a range of different, often complementary modeling schemes. Though never exact, these representations are of something extra-representational because they present the world modally as going beyond what is represented explicitly. (shrink)
Manifestationalism holds that science aims only to give us theories that are correct about what has been observed thus far. Several philosophers, including Bas van Fraassen, have argued that manifestationalism cannot make sense of the scientific impetus to make new observations, since such observations only risk turning manifestationally adequate theories into inadequate ones. This paper argues that a strikingly similar objection applies to van Fraassen’s own constructive empiricism, the view that science aims only to find theories that are empirically adequate. (...) Roughly, the objection is that constructive empiricism cannot make sense of the scientific impetus to expand the limits of what can be observed, since such expansions only risk turning empirically adequate theories into inadequate ones. (shrink)
Many scientists and philosophers of science think that beauty should play a role in theory selection. Physicists like Paul Dirac and Steven Weinberg explicitly claim that the ultimate explanations of the physical world must be beautiful. And philosophers of science like Peter Lipton say that we should expect the loveliest theory to also be the most likely. In this paper, I contend that these arguments from loveliness bear a striking similarity to Thomas Aquinas’ arguments from fittingness; both seem to presume (...) that the most beautiful theory is also the most probable. To do this, I first explain the explanatory virtues that are commonly thought to be constitutive of a lovely theory. Second, I elucidate Aquinas’ arguments from fittingness and show how they work in light of his account of beauty. Lastly, I connect the two kinds of aesthetic arguments and show the extent to which they overlap. (shrink)
‘Visualisations play an important role in science’, this seems to be an uncontroversial statement today. Scientists not only use visual representations as means to communicate their research results in publications or talks, but also often as surrogates for their objects of interest during the process of research. Thus, we can make a distinction between two contexts of usage here, namely the explanatory and the exploratory context. The focus of this paper is on the latter one. Obviously, using visualisations as surrogates (...) for their objects of depiction presupposes the assumption that the former can tell us something relevant about the latter. Thus, a particular referential relation between object and image has to be assumed that can transfer the relevant information. Furthermore, as science is a collaborative enterprise – a social activity – this information has to be intersubjectively accessible and stable. Nonetheless, philosophers of science still quarrel about the epistemic and ontological status of such visualisations. After all, they are means to visualise theoretical entities, such as the Higgs Boson, i.e. entities that are principally not observable with the unaided eye. Especially the significant reliance on information technology devices to access this world of the unobservable provokes a lot of suspicion with regard to the referential status of such visualisations. In this sense, quite a few philosophers adopt social constructivism as an explanatory hypothesis. A particular image is constructed with the aid of instruments and theoretical assumptions; hence it does not refer to an entity outside this system. In this paper, I will critically analyse this assumption and try to argue for an alternative point of view. (shrink)
There’s a recurrent divide among philosophical views about science—those focused on practice vs. those focused on metaphysics, assertions of pluralism vs. assertions of realism, accounts of how science’s history could have gone otherwise vs. accounts of how science achieves knowledge. Michela Massimi’s Perspectival Realism is ultimately a bridging project, aiming to cross this divide. The project is to recruit resources from perspectivism, a kind of pluralism about science, to show how science achieves knowledge and, thus, to inform a scientific realism (...) compatible with this pluralism. (shrink)
The choice between realism and instrumentalism is at the core of concerns about how our scientific models relate to reality: Do our models aim to be literally true descriptions of reality, or is their role only as useful instruments for generating predictions? Realism about X, roughly speaking, is the claim that X exists and has its nature independent of our interests, attitudes, and beliefs. An instrumentalist about X denies this. She claims that talk of X should be understood as no (...) more than a useful locution for generating predictions, such talk should not be understood as taking on a commitment to the existence of X. According to an instrumentalist, we should either flatly not believe that X is out there, or else suspend judgement about the existence of X. The most we need acknowledge is that talk of X is useful in making predictions. The question of realism vs. instrumentalism can be asked about almost any theoretical entity in science. It is likely, and seems reasonable, that different answers will be given in different cases. Someone may wish to be a realist about certain theoretical entities (e.g. electrons), but an instrumentalist about others (e.g. centres of gravity). Not every noun-phrase in a scientific theory should be taken as expressing an ontological commitment. Psychological theories are no exception. Almost every theoretical posit in psychology has been questioned as to whether it is really out there or just a useful theoretical fiction. In this entry, I will focus on two major theoretical posits in psychology: (a) propositional attitudes (e.g. beliefs, desires) and (b) conscious states (qualia). (shrink)
In this paper, the epistemological and conceptual limits of our ability to conceive and reason about future possibilities are analyzed. It is argued that more attention should be paid in futures studies on these epistemological and conceptual limits. Drawing on three cases from philosophy of science, the paper argues that there are deep epistemological and conceptual limits in our ability to conceive and reason about alternatives to the current world. The nature and existence of these limits are far from obvious (...) and become visible only through careful investigation. The cases establish that we often are unable to conceive relevant alternatives; that historical and counterfactual considerations are more limited than has been suggested; and that the present state of affairs reinforces its hegemony through multiple conceptual and epistemological mechanisms. The paper discusses the reasons behind the limits of the conceivability and the consequences that follow from the considerations that make the limits visible. The paper suggests that the epistemological and conceptual limits in our ability to conceive and reason about possible futures should be mapped systematically. The mapping would provide a better understanding of the creative and critical bite of futures studies. (shrink)
This volume offers a collection of in-depth explorations of pragmatism as a framework for discussions in philosophy of science and metaphysics. Each chapter involves explicit reflection on what it means to be pragmatist, and how to use pragmatism as a guiding framework in addressing topics such as realism, unification, fundamentality, truth, laws, reduction, and more. -/- .
Modern fundamental science tends to avoid the principle of physical causality and realism, replacing it with heuristically postulated and separated mathematical constructions that impose their own rules before being adjusted to measurement results. While it is officially accepted as the single possible kind of rigorous knowledge, we argue that another, explicitly extended kind of science can provide the causally complete picture of reality avoiding the glaring gaps, growing problems and persisting stagnation of the artificially reduced knowledge paradigm. The logic of (...) science development and especially its current state call for the urgently needed transition to the extended, causally complete kind of knowledge and related sustainable progress at superior creativity levels of self-aware, reason-based society. (shrink)
Wir Menschen streben danach, die Wirklichkeit zu verstehen. Eine Welt, die wir gut verstehen, ist eine, die wir "im Griff" haben, mit der wir gut umgehen können. Aber was heißt es genau, ein Phänomen der Wirklichkeit zu verstehen? Wie sieht unser Weltbild aus, wenn wir ein Phänomen verstanden haben? Welche Bedingungen müssen erfüllt sein, damit Verstehen gelingt? Die Kernthese des Buches ist, dass wir Phänomene der Wirklichkeit durch noetische Integration verstehen. Wir verstehen Phänomene, indem wir den entsprechenden Informationseinheiten eine sinnvolle (...) und angemessene Position in unserem Weltbild zuschreiben und insofern unser Weltbild in gewissem Maße der Wirklichkeit entspricht. (shrink)
Van Fraassen does not merely perform Bayesian conditionalization on his pragmatic theory of scientific explanation; he uses inference to the best explanation (IBE) to justify it, contrary to what Prasetya thinks. Without first using IBE, we cannot carry out Bayesian conditionalization, contrary to what van Fraassen thinks. The argument from a bad lot, which van Fraassen constructs to criticize IBE, backfires on both the pragmatic theory and Bayesian conditionalization, pace van Fraassen and Prasetya.
It is sometimes argued that, given its detachment from our current most successful science, analytic metaphysics has no epistemic value because it contributes nothing to our knowledge of reality. Relatedly, it is also argued that metaphysics properly constrained by science can avoid that problem. In this paper we argue, however, that given the current understanding of the relation between science and metaphysics, metaphysics allegedly constrained by science suffers the same fate as its unconstrained sister; that is, what is currently thought (...) of as scientifically respectful metaphysics may end up also being without epistemic value. The core of our claim is that although much emphasis is put on the supposed difference between unconstrained analytic metaphysics, in opposition to scientifically constrained metaphysics, it is largely forgotten that no clear constraining relation of metaphysics by science is yet available. (shrink)
On the Art is a polemical treatise in the Hippocratic Corpus that has been dated to 450 – 400 BCE. As a polemical work, the author defends the existence of medicine against detractors. I argue that the author employs two arguments for scientific realism in defense of medicine that are among the earliest known. First, I situate the work in the context of the sophistic movement and the nomos vs. physis debate. Second, I analyze the two arguments in On the (...) Art II, and I argue by contraposing spatiotemporalist, constructivist, and realist interpretations of the passage that the author grapples with the semantic stretch of the word εἶδος. Thereafter, I propose the arguments are best understood as indispensability arguments in which medical realism is defended in order to explain clinical practice. (shrink)
In this popular article, I suggest that the task of interpreting quantum mechanics becomes easier if we reject the view that the quantum universe must be described by a wave function. We should zoom out from the wave function and represent the universe with something more coarse-grained, one that naturally arises from considerations about the Past Hypothesis. The new proposal is called the Wentaculus.
Our philosophical understanding of mental illness is being shaped by neuroscience. However, it has the paradoxical effect of igniting two radically opposed groups of philosophical views. On one side, skepticism and denialism assume that, lacking clear biological mechanisms and etiologies for most mental illnesses, we should infer they are constructions best explained by means of social factors. This is strongly associated with medical nihilism: it considers psychiatry more harmful than benign. On the other side of the divide, naturalism and reductionism (...) are on the look for failures in the biological functioning of the organism whenever a genuine mental illness occurs. Psychiatry as currently practiced, accordingly, exhibits the gaps of an ongoing research programme; a yet to be completed neuroscience would link mental illnesses with identifiable biological mechanisms. Both sides of this divide claim to be fostered by scientific discoveries and advances in neuroscience, when taken at face value. Against this background, we argue instead for a modest view. To that end, we draw attention to some nuances in the scientific realism debate. While contending that neuroscientific theories and models aim to provide true representations of their target systems, and can justifiably claim to have attained some, we argue that our confidence should not be placed beforehand in specific features of these scientific representations. Hence, it would be unwarranted to extract morals for psychiatry from posits (or their absence) in neuroscientific explanations of mental illnesses. To illustrate our position, we examine some recent discoveries in neuroscience concerning bipolar disorder. We conclude by linking our topic to a broader issue in the philosophy of medicine: insofar as psychiatry is a biomedical specialty, its classifications of health and disease are guided by pragmatic concerns, as well as by scientific discoveries. (shrink)
This paper draws on the phenomenological-hermeneutical approaches to philosophy of science to develop realist perspectivism, an integration of experimental realism and perspectivism. Specifically, the paper employs the distinction between “manifestation” and “phenomenon” and it advances the view that the evidence of a real entity is “explorable” in order to argue that instrumentally-mediated robust evidence indicates real entities. Furthermore, it underpins the phenomenological notion of the horizonal nature of scientific observation with perspectivism, so accounting for scientific pluralism even in the cases (...) of inconsistent models. Overall, realist perspectivism is proposed as the way to go for (phenomenologically-hermeneutically minded) philosophers of science. (shrink)
Bruineberg and colleagues' critique of Friston blankets relies on what we call the “literalist fallacy”: the assumption that in order for Friston blankets to represent real boundaries, biological systems must literally possess or instantiate Markov blankets. We argue that it is important to distinguish a realist view of Friston blankets from the literalist view of Bruineberg and colleagues’ critique.
Metascientific ontology differs from philosophical ontologies in its objectives, objects and methods. By an examination of the ontological theories of Mario Bunge, we will show their main objective is a unified representation of the world as known through the sciences, that their objects of study are scientific concepts, and that their methods do not differ from those that one expects to find in any rational activity. Metascientific ontology is therefore not transcendent because it does not seek to represent non-concrete objects (...) alien to the world we inhabit and to the sciences that study it, and therefore does not need special faculties and methods to carry out its research. Metascientific ontology is a general scientific discourse on the world because it was designed by and for the sciences. (shrink)
L’ontologie métascientifique se distingue des ontologies philosophiques par ses objectifs, ses objets et ses méthodes. Par un examen des théories ontologiques de Mario Bunge, nous montrerons que leur principal objectif est l’élaboration d’une représentation unifiée du monde tel que connu via les sciences, que leurs objets d’étude sont les concepts scientifiques, et que leurs méthodes ne diffèrent pas de celles qu’on s’attend à trouver dans toute activité rationnelle. L’ontologie métascientifique n’est donc pas transcendante parce qu’elle ne cherche pas à représenter (...) des objets étrangers au monde que nous habitons et aux sciences qui l’étudient, et par conséquent elle n’a pas besoin de facultés ni de méthodes spéciales pour mener à bien ses recherches. L’ontologie métascientifique est un discours général scientifique sur le monde parce que conçue par et pour les sciences. (shrink)
Le scientisme a plus de notoriété que l’histoire proprement dite, car il a été identifié avec le « positivisme », le « réductionnisme », le « matérialisme » ou le « marxisme », ou même tenu responsable de la domination de la science sur leur autres activités humaines. L’idée que la recherche scientifique produit les meilleures connaissances possible réside dans la définition même du « scientisme ». Cependant, alors même que la science peut se prévaloir d’un nombre considérable de succès (...) théoriques et pratiques, une confiance rationnelle envers elle comme moyen de résoudre tout problème factuel a été dénoncée comme illégitime, discutable ou dogmatique. Ainsi, après avoir passé en revue les diverses conceptions du scientisme, je défends une position raisonnable du scientisme contre certaines de ses critiques dominantes. Ainsi, on soutiendra que la science est l’approche la plus fiable pour acquérir des connaissances sans nuire à d’autres activités importantes dans la mesure où celles-ci ne traitent pas de questions factuelles ou cognitives ni ne sont en contradiction avec une vision du monde scientifique. (shrink)
I argue that molecules may not have structure in isolation. I support this by investigating how quantum models identify structure for isolated molecules. Specifically, I distinguish between two sets of models: those that identify structure in isolation and those that do not. The former identify structure because they presuppose structural information about the target system via the Born- Oppenheimer approximation. However, it is an idealisation to assume structure in isolation because there is no empirical evidence of this. In fact, whenever (...) structure is empirically examined it is always partially determined by factors that are absent in isolation. Together with the growing empirical evidence that isolated molecules behave in non-classical ways, this shows that the quantum models that do not identify structure are more faithful representations of isolated molecules. (shrink)
In response to a recent argument by David Bloor, I argue that denying absolutes does not necessarily lead to relativism, that one can be a fallibilist without being a relativist. At issue are the empirical natural sciences and what might be called “framework relativism”, that is, the idea that there is always a conceptual scheme or set of practices in use, and all observations are theory-laden relative to the framework. My strategy is to look at the elements that define a (...) relativist stance and show where the pragmatic fallibilist disagrees. Defending the pragmatic notion of experience will be central, given that relativists reject the idea that experience can play a role in objectively justifying belief. We can reject all absolutes and start from the premise that everything is historical, contingent, and situated. One of the lessons of pragmatism is that universal and fixed principles are not necessary for objective knowledge. (shrink)
Dans cet article, nous essayons de comprendre comment l’hyloréalisme scientifique de Bunge peut s’accommoder avec plusieurs objets de la chimie des cristaux et leurs propriétés. Nous montrons que plusieurs d’entre eux, constituant le cœur de la discipline, soutiennent l’émergentisme ontologique. Les unités de construction, comme les lacunes, leur potentiel chimique, le nombre quantique cristallographique et plusieurs aspects des propriétés spectroscopiques des électrons 4f dans les cristaux ioniques, sont présentés comme des exemples remarquables d’objets ou de propriétés émergents (ou submergents) rencontrés (...) dans l’état cristallin. Parmi tous les types d’unités de construction, nous montrons que les lacunes s’avèrent ontologiquement réelles et matérielles. (shrink)
This afterword to Species and Beyond provides some reflections on species, with special attention to what I think the most significant developments have been in the thinking of biologists and philosophers working on species over the past 25 years, as well as some bad jokes.
Tim Maudlin has claimed that EPR’s Reality Criterion is analytically true. We argue that it is not. Moreover, one may be a subjectivist about quantum probabilities without giving up on objective physical reality. Thus, would-be detractors must reject QBism and other epistemic approaches to quantum theory on other grounds.
The question whether Buddhism can enter a fruitful dialogue with modern science has come under critical scrutiny in recent years. This paper considers Evan Thompson's appraisal of that dialogue in Why I am Not a Buddhist, focussing on four areas of disagreement: (i) the suitability of evolutionary psychology as a framework of analysis for Buddhist moral psychological ideas; (ii) the issue of what counts as the core and main trajectory of the Buddhist intellectual tradition; (iii) the scope of naturalism in (...) the relation between science and metaphysics, and (iv) whether a Madhyamaka-inspired anti-foundationalist stance can serve as an effective platform for debating the issue of progress in science. My main argument is that while Buddhist ideas about mind and cognition can expand the range of conceptual possibilities in framing core debates in the mind sciences, they cannot supplant the empirical claims to knowledge for which scientific naturalism so far provides the most viable basis. (shrink)
The paper provides a thorough account of the relationship between Ernst Mach’s thought and that of an apparently more intellectually distant near-contemporary, Friedrich Nietzsche. The consistency of their views is in fact substantial, as I try to show within the paper. Despite their interests being different, both Mach and Nietzsche were concerned with the same issues about our intellectual relationship with the external world, dealing with the same questions and pursuing a common aim of eliminating worn-out philosophical conceptions. Moreover, it (...) can be argued that both Mach and Nietzsche converged on what we now know as the problem of realism versus anti-realism in the philosophy of science, and that they both rejected ‘representational’ (realist) conceptions of science in favour of a certain sort of pragmatic anti-realism, whose focus was on the role science plays as a means of orientation. (shrink)
As the title suggests, David Landy’s Hume’s Science of Human Nature: Scientific Realism, Reason, and Substantial Explanation defends a staunchly realist interpretation of Hume on scientific explanation. Landy’s forward-looking view sees Hume’s methodology in the Treatise as anticipating developments much later in history. He gives Hume a Sellarsian update, making his philosophy of science more impactful and contemporary than previously thought. The motivation for his view is twofold. First, he wants to respond to the long line of Hume critics who (...) think his “science of human nature” is hardly science at all. According to this interpretive tradition, Hume’s “science” is merely the... (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to give an account of the change in Feyerabend's philosophy that made him abandon methodological monism and embrace methodological pluralism. In this paper I offer an explanation in terms of a simple model of 'change of belief through evidence'. My main claim is that the evidence triggering this belief revision can be identified in Feyerabend's technical work in the interpretation of quantum mechanics, in particular his reevaluation of Bohr's contribution to it. This highlights an (...) under-appreciated part of Feyerabend's early work and makes it central to an understanding of the dynamics in his overall philosophy of science. (shrink)
Scientific realists claim we can justifiably believe that science is getting at the truth. But they have long faced historical challenges: various episodes across history appear to demonstrate that even strongly supported scientific theories can be overturned and left behind. In response, realists have developed new positions and arguments. As a result of specific challenges from the history of science, and realist responses, we find ourselves with an ever increasing data-set bearing on the (possible) relationship between science and truth. The (...) present volume introduces new historical cases impacting the debate, and advances the discussion of cases that have only very recently been introduced. At the same time, shifts in philosophical positions affect the very kind of case study that is relevant. Thus the historical work must proceed hand in hand with philosophical analysis of the different positions and arguments in play. It is with this in mind that the volume is divided into two sections, entitled “Historical cases for the debate,” and “Contemporary scientific realism”. All sides agree that historical cases are informative with regard to how, or whether, science connects with truth. Defying proclamations as early as the 1980s announcing the death knell of the scientific realism debate, here is that rare thing: a philosophical debate making steady and definite progress. Moreover, the progress it is making concerns one of humanity’s most profound and important questions: the relationship between science and truth, or, put more boldly, the epistemic relation between humankind and the reality in which we find ourselves. (shrink)
I discuss the relevance of the current predicament in cosmology to the debate over scientific realism. I argue that the existence of two, empirically successful but ontologically inconsistent cosmological theories presents difficulties for the realist position.
In this paper, I reply to Seungbae Park’s (2021) reply to my (Mizrahi 2021) reply to his (Park 2020) critique of the view I defend in Chapter 6 of The Relativity of Theory: Key Positions and Arguments in the Contemporary Scientific Realism/Antirealism Debate (Cham: Springer, 2020), namely, Relative Realism. Relative Realism is the view that, of a set of competing scientific theories, the more successful theory is comparatively true. Comparative truth is a relation between competing theories. So, to say that (...) T1 is comparatively true is to say that T1 is closer to the truth than its competitors, T2, T3, …, Tn. In his latest reply, Park (2021) clarifies his notions of “T-space” and “F-space,” which he now labels “T-space” and “O-space,” and further develops what he calls the “Argument from Double Spaces,” which is supposed to show that, contrary to what the relative realist argues, relative judgments about the comparative truth of competing theories are not rationally justified. I argue that Park’s revised version of the “Argument from Double Spaces” still fails as an argument against Relative Realism. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to contribute to the debate over the nature of scientific progress in philosophy of science by taking a quantitative, corpus-based approach. By employing the methods of data science and corpus linguistics, the following philosophical accounts of scientific progress are tested empirically: the semantic account of scientific progress, the epistemic account of scientific progress, and the noetic account of scientific progress. Overall, the results of this quantitative, corpus-based study lend some empirical support to the epistemic (...) and the noetic accounts over the semantic account of scientific progress, for they suggest that practicing scientists use the terms ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ significantly more often than the term ‘truth’ when they talk about the aims or goals of scientific research in their published works. But the results do not favor the epistemic account over the noetic account, or vice versa, for they reveal no significant differences between the frequency with which practicing scientists use the terms ‘knowledge’ and ‘understanding’ when they talk about the aims or goals of scientific research in their published works. (shrink)
I’m grateful to Aleta Quinn and Studies in History and Philosophy of Science for hosting this book forum for my book, The Relativity of Theory (Springer, 2020). I’m also grateful to Margaret Greta Turnbull and Joseph Martin for their commentaries. In what follows, I address their comments as I understand them.
In this paper, I reply to Seungbae Park’s (2020) critique of the view I defend in Chapter 6 of The Relativity of Theory: Key Positions and Arguments in the Contemporary Scientific Realism/Antirealism Debate (Cham: Springer, 2020), namely, Relative Realism. Relative Realism is the view that, of a set of competing scientific theories, the more predictively successful theory is comparatively true. Comparative truth is a relation between competing theories. So, to say that T1 is comparatively true is to say that T1 (...) is closer to the truth than its competitors, T2, T3, ..., Tn. Park offers two arguments against Relative Realism. The first is an argument by analogy to NBA players, which is supposed to show that, contrary to what the relative realist argues, absolute judgments about the (approximate) truth and (predictive) success of competing theories are rationally justified. The second is what Park calls “The Argument from Double Spaces,” which is supposed to show that, contrary to what the relative realist argues, relative judgments about the (comparative) truth of competing theories are not rationally justified. I argue that Park’s arguments fail to do what he wants them to do. (shrink)
The homeostatic property cluster theory is widely influential for its ability to account for many natural-kind terms in the life sciences. However, the notion of homeostatic mechanism has never been fully explicated. In 2009, Carl Craver interpreted the notion in the sense articulated in discussions on mechanistic explanation and pointed out that the HPC account equipped with such notion invites interest-relativity. In this paper, we analyze two recent refinements on HPC: one that avoids any reference to the causes of the (...) clustering of properties and one that replaces homeostatic mechanisms with causal networks represented by causal graphs. We argue that the former is too slender to account for some inductive inference in science and the latter, thicker account invites interest-relativity, as the original HPC does. This suggests that human interest will be an un-eliminative part of a satisfactory account of natural kindness. We conclude by discussing the implication of interest-relativity to the naturalness, reality, or objectivity of kinds and indicating an overlooked aspect of natural kinds that requires further studies. (shrink)
The basic principle of all realist theories of truth developed in the 13th and 14th centuries was that a proposition is true if and only if it tells us how things are in reality. Walter Burley (1275-1344) interpreted this principle in a more radical way than 13th-century realists did. Burley, in fact, proposed a strong correspondence theory, in which there is a strict biunique correspondence between linguistic and extra-linguistic elements. Now, if the principle of correspondence can be applied to Burley (...) unconditionally to all affirmative statements (both for accidental and essential predications), it cannot be applied in the case of negative propositions, since in reality there can be no negative state of affairs. In order to solve this problem, Burley uses the strategy of introducing a complex mental object or objective entity as the significatum adequatum of negative sentences. It is an object which, although it exists only in the mind, is completely independent of our mental operations and which ultimately refers to the extra-mental world, composed exclusively of positive objects and states of affairs. In fact, the truth of a negative sentence does not depend on it corresponding to some negative fact, but rather on the opposite affirmative sentence failing to correspond to some positive extramental fact. Thus, extramental reality, which is only composed of positive objects, recovers its role as a yardstick for verifying the truth or falsity of all particular sentences, both affirmative and negative. (shrink)
The paper presents a realist account of the epistemic objectivity of science. Epistemic objectivity is distinguished from ontological objectivity and the objectivity of truth. As background, T.S. Kuhn’s idea that scientific theory-choice is based on shared scientific values with a role for both objective and subjective factors is discussed. Kuhn’s values are epistemologically ungrounded, hence provide a minimal sense of objectivity. A robust account of epistemic objectivity on which methodological norms are reliable means of arriving at the truth is presented. (...) The problem remains that deliberative judgement is required to determine the relevance and relative significance of a range of methodological norms. A role is sketched for cognitive virtues which may be exercised in the course of the deliberative judgement. (shrink)
This paper defends an ontology of weak entity realism for homeostatic property cluster (HPC) theories of natural kinds, adapted from Bird’s (Synthese 195(4):1397–1426, 2018) taxonomy of such theories. Weak entity realism about HPC kinds accepts the existence of natural kinds. Weak entity realism denies two theses: that (1) HPC kinds have mind-independent essences, and that (2) HPC kinds reduce to entities, such as complex universals, posited only by metaphysical theories. Strong entity realism accepts (1) and (2), whereas moderate entity realism (...) accepts only (1). Given its commitment to (2), strong entity realism is more theoretically complex than weak entity realism, with little explanatory payoff. Given their commitment to (1), moderate and strong entity realisms cannot explain how the identity conditions of HPC kinds are to be straightforwardly knowable. I argue that weak entity realism avoids such epistemic difficulties. I further rebut two plausible criticisms of weak entity realism, namely that weak entity realism cannot account for quantification over kinds, and that weak entity realism cannot provide identity conditions for HPC kinds which are both scientifically useful and objective. Given the theoretical costs of strong and moderate entity realism, and weak entity realism’s adequate response to its most plausible challenges, weak entity realism about HPCs is to be preferred, especially for biological and chemical kinds. (shrink)