Conventionalism, structuralism and neo-Kantianism in Poincaré’s philosophy of science

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics 52 (Part B):114-122 (2015)
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Abstract

Poincaré is well known for his conventionalism and structuralism. However, the relationship between these two theses and their place in Poincaré׳s epistemology of science remain puzzling. In this paper I show the scope of Poincaré׳s conventionalism and its position in Poincaré׳s hierarchical approach to scientific theories. I argue that for Poincaré scientific knowledge is relational and made possible by synthetic a priori, empirical and conventional elements, which, however, are not chosen arbitrarily. By examining his geometric conventionalism, his hierarchical account of science and defence of continuity in theory change, I argue that Poincaré defends a complex structuralist position based on synthetic a priori and conventional elements, the mind-dependence of which precludes epistemic access to mind-independent structures.

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Milena Ivanova
Cambridge University

References found in this work

Two Dogmas of Empiricism.W. Quine - 1951 - [Longmans, Green].
Two Dogmas of Empiricism.Willard V. O. Quine - 1951 - Philosophical Review 60 (1):20–43.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1980 - In Yuri Balashov & Alexander Rosenberg (eds.), Philosophy of Science: Contemporary Readings. Routledge. pp. 211.

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