The Functional Complexity of Scientific Evidence

Metaphilosophy 46 (1):65-83 (2015)

Matthew J. Brown
University of Texas at Dallas
This article sketches the main features of traditional philosophical models of evidence, indicating idealizations in such models that it regards as doing more harm than good. It then proceeds to elaborate on an alternative model of evidence that is functionalist, complex, dynamic, and contextual, a view the author calls dynamic evidential functionalism (DEF). This alternative builds on insights from philosophy of scientific practice, Kuhnian philosophy of science, pragmatist epistemology, philosophy of experimentation, and functionalist philosophy of mind. Along the way, the article raises concerns about the total evidence condition, requirements of certainty or incorrigibility on evidence, and accounts that restrict the type of things that can serve as evidence (to, for example, sense data, facts about particulars). DEF can also help us see the special value of novel predictions and experiments as evidence, as well as help us think about how to critically evaluate the putative evidence to determine whether it is evidence.
Keywords functionalism  John Dewey  experiment  observation  Thomas Kuhn  predictivism  inquiry  dynamic evidential functionalism  pragmatism  evidence  contextualism
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DOI 10.1111/meta.12123
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge.Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.) - 1970 - Cambridge University Press.
Scientific Perspectivism.Ronald N. Giere - 2006 - University of Chicago Press.

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