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Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism

Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science (2012)

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  1. Smaller Than a Breadbox: Scale and Natural Kinds.Julia R. Bursten - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axw022.
    I propose a division of the literature on natural kinds into metaphysical worries, semantic worries, and methodological worries. I argue that the latter set of worries, which concern how classification influences scientific practices, should occupy centre stage in philosophy of science discussions about natural kinds. I apply this methodological framework to the problems of classifying chemical species and nanomaterials. I show that classification in nanoscience differs from classification in chemistry because the latter relies heavily on compositional identity, whereas the former (...)
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  • The Resisted Rise of Randomisation in Experimental Design: British Agricultural Science, C.1910–1930.D. J. Berry - 2015 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 37 (3):242-260.
    The most conspicuous form of agricultural experiment is the field trial, and within the history of such trials, the arrival of the randomised control trial is considered revolutionary. Originating with R.A. Fisher within British agricultural science in the 1920s and 30s, the RCT has since become one of the most prodigiously used experimental techniques throughout the natural and social sciences. Philosophers of science have already scrutinised the epistemological uniqueness of RCTs, undermining their status as the ‘gold standard’ in experimental design. (...)
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  • Niche Construction and Conceptual Change in Evolutionary Biology.Tobias Uller & Heikki Helanterä - 2019 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2):351-375.
    The theoretical status of ‘niche construction’ in evolution is intensely debated. Here we substantiate the reasons for different interpretations. We consider two concepts of niche construction brought to bear on evolutionary theory; one that emphasizes how niche construction contributes to selection and another that emphasizes how it contributes to development and inheritance. We explain the rationale for claims that selective and developmental niche construction motivate conceptual change in evolutionary biology and the logic of those who reject these claims. Our analysis (...)
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  • Chemistry, Paradigms, and a View of Epistemic Pluralism: To the Issue of the Nature of Disagreements in Philosophy and in Science.Rein Vihalemm - 2016 - Acta Baltica Historiae Et Philosophiae Scientiarum 4 (1):114-123.
    Posthumous paper of Rein Vihalemm prepared to be presented at the 15th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, 3–8 August, Helsinki, Finland.
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  • Repertoires: A Post-Kuhnian Perspective on Scientific Change and Collaborative Research.Rachel A. Ankeny & Sabina Leonelli - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 60:18-28.
  • Why the Realism Debate Matters for Science Policy: The Case of the Human Brain Project.Jamie Craig Owen Shaw - 2018 - Spontaneous Generations 9 (1):82-98.
    There has been a great deal of skepticism towards the value of the realism/anti-realism debate. More specifically, many have argued that plausible formulations of realism and anti-realism do not differ substantially in any way. In this paper, I argue against this trend by demonstrating how a hypothetical resolution of the debate, through deeper engagement with the historical record, has important implications for our criterion of theory pursuit and science policy. I do this by revisiting Arthur Fine’s ‘small handful’ argument for (...)
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  • Engaging Philosophically with the History of Science: Two Challenges for Scientific Realism.Theodore Arabatzis - 2018 - Spontaneous Generations 9 (1):35-37.
    I raise two challenges for scientific realists. The first is a pessimistic meta-induction, but not of the more common type, which focuses on rejected theories and abandoned entities. Rather, the PMI I have in mind departs from conceptual change, which is ubiquitous in science. Scientific concepts change over time, often to a degree that is difficult to square with the stability of their referents, a sine qua non for realists. The second challenge is to make sense of successful scientific practice (...)
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  • Realism for Realistic People.Hasok Chang - 2018 - Spontaneous Generations 9 (1):31-34.
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  • Scientific Discovery: That-What’s and What-That's.Samuel Schindler - 2015 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 2.
    In this paper I defend Kuhn’s view of scientific discovery, which involves two central tenets, namely that a scientific discovery always requires a discovery-that and a discovery-what, and that there are two kinds of scientific discovery, resulting from the temporal order of the discovery-that and the discovery-what. I identify two problems with Kuhn’s account and offer solutions to them from a realist stance. Alternatives to Kuhn’s account are also discussed.
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  • Retail Realism and Wholesale Treatments of Theoretical Entities.Jonathon Hricko - manuscript
    According to retail realism, we ought to abandon wholesale arguments, which purport to demonstrate realism or anti-realism about theoretical entities in general, and embrace retail arguments, which purport to demonstrate realism or anti-realism about specific kinds of theoretical entities. My aim is to argue that there is a further wholesale element that retail realism must avoid in order to qualify as a viable position. In order to do so, I distinguish between what I call wholesale and retail treatments of theoretical (...)
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  • Chang. 2012. Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism.Roberto Torretti - 2013 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 28 (2):331-334.
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  • Investigating Consistencies, Inconsistencies, and the Meaning of the Ceteris Paribus Clause in Chemistry.Jean-Pierre Llored - 2017 - Humana Mente 10 (32).
    Chemists do not aim at testing preconceptions or theoretical hypotheses only; they first and foremost produce and determine the object of chemical investigation: they learn through making. They never cease to create and stabilize heterogeneous devices, methods, models, and theories in order to act upon the world. Chemical bodies cannot be studied in isolation; their properties constitutively depend on what surrounds and acts upon them. Starting from the specificity of chemical practices, this paper investigates the meaning of consistency, inconsistency, and (...)
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  • Scientific Pluralism and Inconsistency Toleration.Dunja Šešelja - 2017 - Humana Mente 10 (32).
    In this paper I examine the problem of inconsistency toleration in the context of scientific pluralism. I argue that, first of all, the notion of inconsistency toleration has to be qualified with respect to the evaluative attitude that one takes towards a given scientific theory or theories. Second, I show which types of inconsistency toleration are compatible with two major approaches to scientific pluralism, the so-called modest and the radical one. In view of this I suggest some points of demarcation (...)
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  • Paraconsistency, Pluralistic Models and Reasoning in Climate Science.Bryson Brown - 2017 - Humana Mente 10 (32).
    Scientific inquiry is typically focused on particular questions about particular objects and properties. This leads to a multiplicity of models which, even when they draw on a single, consistent body of concepts and principles, often employ different methods and assumptions to model different systems. Pluralists have remarked on how scientists draw on different assumptions to model different systems, different aspects of systems and systems under different conditions and defended the value of distinct, incompatible models within science at any given time. (...)
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  • Inconsistency in Mathematics and Inconsistency in Chemistry.Michèle Friend - 2017 - Humana Mente 10 (32).
    In this paper, I compare how it is that inconsistencies are handled in mathematics to how they are handled in chemistry. In mathematics, they are very precisely formulated and identified, unlike in chemistry. So the chemists can learn from the precision and the very well-worked out strategies developed by logicians and deployed by mathematicians to cope with inconsistency. Some lessons can also be learned by the mathematicians from the chemists. Mathematicians tend to be intolerant towards inconsistencies. There are some philosophers (...)
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  • VI—Operational Coherence as the Source of Truth.Hasok Chang - 2017 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 117 (2):103-122.
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  • Scientific Rationality: Phlogiston as a Case Study.Jonathon Hricko - 2017 - In Timothy Joseph Lane & Tzu-Wei Hung (eds.), Rationality: Constraints and Contexts. London, UK: pp. 37-59.
    I argue that it was rational for chemists to eliminate phlogiston, but that it also would have been rational for them to retain it. I do so on the grounds that a number of prominent phlogiston theorists identified phlogiston with hydrogen in the late 18th century, and this identification became fairly well entrenched by the early 19th century. In light of this identification, I critically evaluate Hasok Chang’s argument that chemists should have retained phlogiston, and that doing so would have (...)
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  • Epistemic Loops and Measurement Realism.Alistair M. C. Isaac - unknown
    Recent philosophy of measurement has emphasized the existence of both diachronic and synchronic “loops,” or feedback processes, in the epistemic achievements of measurement. A widespread response has been to conclude that measurement outcomes do not convey interest-independent facts about the world, and that only a coherentist epistemology of measurement is viable. In contrast, I argue that a form of measurement realism is consistent with these results. The insight is that antecedent structure in measuring spaces constrains our empirical procedures such that (...)
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  • Underconsideration in Space-Time and Particle Physics.J. Brian Pitts - unknown
    The idea that a serious threat to scientific realism comes from unconceived alternatives has been proposed by van Fraassen, Sklar, Stanford and Wray among others. Peter Lipton's critique of this threat from underconsideration is examined briefly in terms of its logic and its applicability to the case of space-time and particle physics. The example of space-time and particle physics indicates a generic heuristic for quantitative sciences for constructing potentially serious cases of underdetermination, involving one-parameter family of rivals T_m that work (...)
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  • Policy Considerations for Random Allocation of Research Funds.Shahar Avin - unknown
    There are now several proposals for introducing random elements into the process of funding allocation for research, and some initial implementation of this policy by funding bodies. The proposals have been supported on efficiency grounds, with models, including social epistemology models, showing random allocation could increase the generation of significant truths in a community of scientists when compared to funding by peer review. The models in the literature are, however, fairly abstract. This paper introduces some of the considerations that are (...)
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  • Coordinated Pluralism as a Means to Facilitate Integrative Taxonomies of Cognition.Jacqueline Anne Sullivan - 2017 - Philosophical Explorations 20 (2):129-145.
    The past decade has witnessed a growing awareness of conceptual and methodological hurdles within psychology and neuroscience that must be addressed for taxonomic and explanatory progress in understanding psychological functions to be possible. In this paper, I evaluate several recent knowledge-building initiatives aimed at overcoming these obstacles. I argue that while each initiative offers important insights about how to facilitate taxonomic and explanatory progress in psychology and neuroscience, only a “coordinated pluralism” that incorporates positive aspects of each initiative will have (...)
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  • Species Pluralism: Conceptual, Ontological, and Practical Dimensions.Bzovy Justin - unknown
    Species are central to biology, but there is currently no agreement on what the adequate species concept should be, and many have adopted a pluralist stance: different species concepts will be required for different purposes. This thesis is a multidimensional analysis of species pluralism. First I explicate how pluralism differs monism and relativism. I then consider the history of species pluralism. I argue that we must re-frame the species problem, and that re-evaluating Aristotle's role in the histories of systematics can (...)
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  • Exemplarising the Origin of Genetics: A Path to Genetics (From Mendel to Bateson).Yafeng Shan - 2016 - Dissertation, University College London
    This thesis aims to propose and defend a new way of analysing and understanding the origin of genetics (from Mendel to Bateson). Traditionally philosophers used to analyse the history of genetics in terms of theories. However, I will argue that this theory-based approach is highly problematic. In Chapter 1, I shall critically review the theory-driven approach to analysisng the history of genetics and diagnose its problems. In Chapter 2, inspired by Kuhn’s concept “exemplar”, I shall make a new interpretation of (...)
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  • Productive Theory-Ladenness in fMRI.Emrah Aktunc - forthcoming - Synthese.
    Several developments for diverse scientific goals, mostly in physics and physiology, had to take place, which eventually gave us fMRI as one of the central research paradigms of contemporary cognitive neuroscience. This technique stands on solid foundations established by the physics of magnetic resonance and the physiology of hemodynamics and is complimented by computational and statistical techniques. I argue, and support using concrete examples, that these foundations give rise to a productive theory-ladenness in fMRI, which enables researchers to identify and (...)
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  • Why Did Feyerabend Defend Astrology? Integrity, Virtue, and the Authority of Science.Ian James Kidd - 2016 - Social Epistemology 30 (4):464-482.
    This paper explores the relationship between epistemic integrity, virtue, and authority by offering a virtue epistemological reading of the defences of non-scientific beliefs, practices, and traditions in the writings of Paul Feyerabend. I argue that there was a robust epistemic rationale for those defences and that it can inform contemporary reflection on the epistemic authority of the sciences. Two common explanations of the purpose of those defences are rejected as lacking textual support. A third “pluralist” reading is judged more persuasive, (...)
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  • MUDdy Understanding.Daniel Wilkenfeld - 2017 - Synthese 194 (4).
    This paper focuses on two questions: Is understanding intimately bound up with accurately representing the world? Is understanding intimately bound up with downstream abilities? We will argue that the answer to both these questions is “yes”, and for the same reason-both accuracy and ability are important elements of orthogonal evaluative criteria along which understanding can be assessed. More precisely, we will argue that representational-accuracy and intelligibility are good-making features of a state of understanding. Interestingly, both evaluative claims have been defended (...)
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  • Chemistry and the Problem of Pluralism in Science: An Analysis Concerning Philosophical and Scientific Disagreements.Rein Vihalemm - 2016 - Foundations of Chemistry 18 (2):91-102.
    Chemistry, especially its historical practice, has in the philosophy of science in recent decades attracted more and more attention, influencing the turn from the vision of science as a timeless logic-centred system of statements towards the history- and practice-centred approach. The problem of pluralism in science has become a popular topic in that context. Hasok Chang’s “active normative epistemic pluralism” manifested in his book Is water H2O? Evidence, realism and pluralism, pursuing an integrated study of history and philosophy of science, (...)
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