Traditionally it has been thought that scientific controversies can always be resolved on the basis of empirical data. Recently, however, social constructionists have claimed that the outcome of scientific debates is strongly influenced by non-evidential factors such as the rhetorical prowess and professional clout of the participants. This volume of previously unpublished essays by well-known philosophers of science presents historical studies and philosophical analyses that undermine the plausibility of an extreme social constructionist perspective while also indicating the need for a (...) richer and more realistic account of scientific rationality. (shrink)
Summary The present paper constitutes an elaboration of a previous work by one of us which, among other things, proposed some modifications of Popper's tetradic schema. Here, in the first part, we consider critically and develop further these modifications and elaborate on methods which prove more satisfactory for the mapping of the problem solving processes in Physics. We also find the opportunity to make some comments on Physics and on its relation to Mathematics. In the second part, there is an (...) attempt to test the above ideas on the genesis and development of the Special Relativity Theory. In doing this, we concentrate mainly on Einstein's 1905 paper and try to explicitate its relation with the situation Physics found itself in that period as well as to clarify the epistemological status of Einstein's two postulates. (shrink)
Radical scientific discovery and the associated radical “paradigm change” are treated here as following from the disclosure of what I call background ‘assumptions’. These are taken as more or less equivalent to the “hinge propositions” that Wittgenstein discusses in his On Certainty. On this basis, various issues connected to meaning variance, theory change, incommensurability and so forth, are discussed. It is shown that Kuhn’s overall account need not, with qualifications, imply either idealism or relativism while rationality and scientific progress can (...) be saved in a way that may be acceptable by practising scientists.RésuméLa découverte scientifique radicale, et le changement radical de paradigme associé, sont traités ici comme découlant de la mise à jour de ce qu’on appelle des ‘assomptions’ d’arrière-plan. Celles-ci sont considérées comme plus ou moins équivalentes aux ‘propositions charnières’ discutées par Wittgenstein dans De la certitude. Sur cette base, diverses questions liées aux changements de signification, au changement théorique, à l’incommensurabilité, etc., sont discutées. On montre que la conception d’ensemble de Kuhn, une fois précisée, n’implique ni l’idéalisme ni le relativisme, et que la rationalité et le progrès scientifique peuvent être sauvés d’une manière acceptable par les scientifiques praticiens. (shrink)
Es wird eine Unterscheidung zwischen für eine einzelne Wissenschaft eigentümlichen Problemen und technologischen Problemen vorgeschlagen. Dieser Unterscheidung liegt eine Auffassung zugrunde, nach welcher jede Wissenschaft einen speziellen Ausblick auf die Welt erarbeitet, einen Ausblick, der nur diejenigen Aspekte eines wirklichen Vorgangs heraussucht und sich aneignet, welche für diese Wissenschaft eigentümlich sind. Im Gegensatz dazu erfaßt die Technologie Vorgänge in der Gesamtheit ihrer Aspekte. Auf der Grundlage dieser Unterscheidung werden die Grundzüge des Verfahrens, welches zur Lösung von technologischen Problemen führt , (...) diskutiert. (shrink)
Bachelard's concept of the problématique is used in order to classify physical problems and their interrelations. This classification is effectuated along two dimensions. Along the horizontal dimension, physical problems are divided into the kinds that the different modes of physics' development define. These modes are themselves determined by the interplay among the conceptual system, the object and the experimentation transactions specific to physics. Along the vertical dimension, physical problems are classified according to the different stages of maturation they have to (...) undergo before the process of their solution is effectively undertaken. To determine these maturation stages, the Althusserian conception of ideology is used. The interrelations between physical problems are examined through the introduction and elaboration of the notion interdependence network. (shrink)
The paper attempts to walk some first steps toward a unified and empirically oriented theory of both the structure and the history of physics. Physics is considered a structured whole made up of three interconstitutive elements (conceptual system, object, experimental procedures). This conceptual system is always already interpreted while it is this interpretation which ties the system to our overall experience thereby making it understood. It is argued that our experience is always ideologically (and thence socially) determined and that this (...) interpretation inevitably harbours the ideological element in the form of scientifically unwarranted ideological "assumptions." The character of such "assumptions" is discussed, some examples are given and some consequences for the history of physics are drawn. (shrink)
Now that the excitement created by the historicist turn in philosophy of science has cooled down, the particular questions raised by this turn do not command anymore the almost exclusive attention of practitioners in the field. Philosophers of science feel freer to embark on such different projects as, for example, an effort to reexamine—on the basis of the lessons taught and of the experience gained—the issues which dominated the scene before the historicist movement erupted. Fred Wilson’s book on the deductive-nomological (...) model of explanation is a case in point. (shrink)
This public lecture commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Center for the Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh provides a brief history of philosophical activity in Greece from ancient to modern times. The lecture culminates in an exploration of the Center's fruitful interactions with Greece's contemporary philosophical community.