'Science and the Philosophers'

In Pihlström & Vilkko Koskinen (ed.), Science: A Challenge to Philosophy? Pp. 125-152. (2006)
The advent of distinctively Modern European philosophy at the turn of the seventeenth century was occasioned by two major developments: the painful recognition after thirty years of religious war that principles of public conduct must be justified independently of sectarian religious dogma; and the growth of natural science, especially discoveries in astronomy that linked terrestrial and celestial physics in a newly mathematicized, explanatory mechanics founded by Galileo and dramatically extended by Newton. The roles of reason and empirical evidence in inquiry, and their superiority to custom and tradition for knowledge of nature were undeniable, though their respective roles and proper epistemological accounting were far from obvious. I review briefly some key points in the advent of natural science in order show that some fundamental philosophical predilections have obscured the proper roles of reason and evidence in the philosophical accounting of scientific knowledge. These predilections are found both among rationalists and among empiricists. Though they may be more readily apparent among seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophers, they are no less prevalent in mainstream analytical philosophy of science. Their diagnosis augurs a fundamental philosophical reorientation, a reorientation inaugurated, indeed, by Hegel.
Keywords Epistemology & HPS  Scientific Realism  Pragmatic realism  Quine's semantics incoherent  van Fraassen  philosophical stances
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