The Dialectic of Discovery

Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1982)

Gary James Jason
California State University, Fullerton
This study, The Dialectic of Discovery, addresses the long-standing debate about the possibility of a "logic of discovery." Regarding this issue, four interlocking theses are defended. The first thesis is that there is indeed a logic of discovery, namely, dialectic, which is an extension of underlying inference and question logics. ;The second thesis is that this fact has been overlooked because the view of knowledge that has dominated Western philosophy, a view I dub "the solipsistic concept of knowledge," blinds us to it. ;The third thesis is that this dialectic is to a large degree formalizable, and that it ought to be formalized to the extent possible. ;The fourth thesis is that the main block to complete formalizability is a particular sort of context-dependency, namely dependence upon the physical conditions under which research is conducted; however, this particular context-sensitivity, this irreducible pragmatic element, is isolatable within the dialectical system as the rules of strategy . Nature does not dictate what is rational, but she does dictate how that rationality should be applied if it is to be successful. ;The structure of the work is designed to present the defense of those theses as closely to their stated order as possible. In the first two chapters, I lay the groundwork for a reasonable defense of Thesis 1 by discussing both ends of the phrase "the logic of discovery." Then, in Chapter Three, I address Thesis 1 directly. ;Thesis 2 is introduced in Chapter Five, and explored more fully in Chapter Fourteen. ;Theses 3 and 4 require the most sustained defense. Since dialectic is an extension of underlying assetoric and erotetic components, Chapters Four and Six address assertoric matters, while Chapter Seven addresses erotetics. ;The assertoric and erotetic foundations having been laid, I am able in Chapters Eight and Nine to exhibit in some detail a formal dialectic of sufficient power to explicate discovery. After exploring conceptual change in the light of dialectic, we are able to address Thesis 4 directly in Chapter Thirteen. ;I conclude the study by examining Thesis 2 in Chapter Fourteen
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