Reconsidering Kant, Friedman, logical positivism, and the exact sciences

Philosophy of Science 69 (2):191-211 (2002)
This essay considers the nature of conceptual frameworks in science, and suggests a reconsideration of the role played by philosophy in radical conceptual change. On Kuhn's view of conceptual conflict, the scientist's appeal to philosophical principles is an obvious symptom of incommensurability; philosophical preferences are merely “subjective factors” that play a part in the “necessarily circular” arguments that scientists offer for their own conceptual commitments. Recent work by Friedman has persuasively challenged this view, revealing the roles that philosophical concerns have played in preparing the way for conceptual change, creating an enlarged conceptual space in which alternatives to the prevailing framework become intelligible and can be rationally discussed. If we shift our focus from philosophical themes or preferences to the process of philosophical analysis, however, we can see philosophy in a different and much more significant historic role: not merely as an external source of general heuristic principles and new conceptual possibilities, but, at least in the most important revolutionary developments, as an objective tool of scientific inquiry. I suggest that this approach offers some insight into the philosophical significance of Newton's and Einstein's revolutionary work in physics, and of the interpretation of their work by (respectively) Kant and the logical positivists. It also offers insight into the connections between modern philosophy of science and some traditional philosophical concerns about the nature of a priori knowledge.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1086/341049
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,453
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Sami Pihlström & Arto Siitonen (2005). The Transcendental Method and (Post-)Empiricist Philosophy of Science. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 36 (1):81 - 106.
Ryan Samaroo (2015). Friedman's Thesis. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52:129-138.

View all 6 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

93 ( #51,294 of 1,925,477 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

1 ( #418,235 of 1,925,477 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.