The main argument of this paper is that philosophical difficulties regarding scientific discovery arise mainly because philosophers base their arguments on a flawed picture of scientific research. Careful examination of N. R. Hanson's treatment of Kepler's discovery not only puts the rationality of this discovery beyond question, it also reveals what its rationality consists in. We can retrieve the point stressed by Hanson concerning the rational character of discoveries such as Kepler's even as we reject the type of "logical" analysis (...) he proposes. (shrink)
In the first half of the paper, it is argued that while the prospects for a criterion for demarcating scientific theories from pseudoscientific ones are exceedingly dim, it is a mistake to fall back to the position that these differ only with regard to how well they are confirmed. One may admit that different pseudoscientific theories are flawed in different ways yet still insist that their flaws are structural rather than empirical in character. In the second half of the paper, (...) this view is extended to cover the cases of pseudoscientific correlations and therapies, and it is suggested that the pseudosciences are best thought of as radically flawed practices. (shrink)
RÉSUMÉ : Le but de W.V. Quine, dans «Deux dogmes de l’empirisme», n’est pas de prouver contre tous que la distinction analytique/synthétique est intenable ni de fournir une conception originale de la connaissance. Il veut plutôt ébranler l’attrait de l’empiriste pour la distinction et montrer ce en quoi réside un empirisme exempt de dogme. En me concentrant sur §§1-3 et §6, je soutiens que son traitement de l’analyticité est structuré par des hypothèses philosophiques fondamentales et que la conception de la (...) connaissance qu’il défend l’habite depuis fort longtemps. «Deux Dogmes» est moins facilement invalidé quand il est interprété en référence aux premières conférences de Quine sur Carnap. (shrink)
Duhem's discussion of physical theories as natural classifications is neither antithetical nor incidental to the main thrust of his philosophy of science. Contrary to what is often supposed, Duhem does not argue that theories are better thought of as economically organizing empirical laws than as providing information concerning the nature of the world. What he is primarily concerned with is the character and justification of the scientific method, not the logical status of theoretical entities. The crucial point to notice is (...) that he took the principle of the autonomy of physics to be of paramount importance and he developed the conception of natural classification in opposition to accounts of physical theories that contravened it. (shrink)
Summary The argument of this paper is (1) that, contrary to what is often thought, there are cases of disagreement among scientists concerning the relative acceptability of theories which do not turn on nonrational or extra-scientific considerations, (2) that agreement cannot be secured without adversely affecting the scientific enterprise as we know it, and (3) that disagreement can be accommodated within a theory of scientific rationality and progress based on the idea that the relative acceptability of scientific theories is a (...) function of their relative problem-solving effectiveness.The diversity of our opinions does not proceed from some men being more rational than others but solely from the fact that our thoughts pass through diverse channels and the same objects are not considered by all.â Descartes, Discourse on Method. (shrink)
Science figured in no small way in Wittgenstein’s philosophy, not least in his remarks about representation. Early and late he regarded theories like Newtonian mechanics as means of representing the world rather than as representations.While the notion of a form of representation looms largest in his early writings, it also informs his later remarks. His appropriation of the mathematical physicist’s conception of representation is as fundamental to Remarks on Colour (1950) as to the Tractatus (1918/1922).
The object of this paper is twofold: to show that resistance to scientific change on the part of scientists need signal neither irrationality nor the presence of extra-scientific influences; and to show how such resistance can be accommodated within a theory of rational choice. After considerations have been outlined suggesting that scientists cannot rationally resist new scientific theories unless theory choice is subjectivistic (section I), evidence is adduced favoring the contrary view (section II). In section III, a non-subjectivistic, non-relativistic conception (...) of rational choice is proposed which recognizes the possibility of scientists' rationally resisting new scientific developments. Finally, in section IV, some minor misunderstandings concerning resistance are discussed. (shrink)
There is nothing in Wittgenstein's philosophical writings remotely approaching an unambiguous expression of right-wing or left-wing sentiments. The words "politics" and "political" do not figure in his work and politicians are referred to only in passing. All that can reasonably be argued is that his philosophy has indirect implications for how we should collectively live our lives, approach political problems or think about political theory. In this paper I critically examine claims that have been made regarding the significance of his (...) writings for politics with an eye to showing they are textually dubious or otherwise misleading. (shrink)
The distinction between saying and showing in Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus is not self-refuting, unbelievable or nonsensical. It makes good sense given Wittgenstein's equation of saying with communicable information and showing with necessarily true thought. The key to understanding his thinking is his claim in the Preface that unassailable and definitive truths are expressed in the book, and the subsidiary assumption that asserting empty truths is nonsensical. His conception of pictures, propositions, logic, mathematics, mathematical physics, mysticism, the inexpressible and solipsism as showing (...) is of a piece with his conception of necessary/a priori truths as tautologies broadly understood. (shrink)
A response to Graham Stevens’s response to Lugg, ‘Russell as a Precursor of Quine’ (Bertrand Russell Society Quarterly, nos. 128-129, pp. 9-21). Stevens challenges the argument of this paper that from 1912, if not earlier, Russell was “a naturalistically-minded epistemologist in the Quinean mould”. He maintains that to the contrary “Russell cannot be accurately characterized as an empiricist” and “Russell’s greatest influence on Quine’s naturalistic project did not stem from his epistemology but from his semantics”. In the present note it (...) is argued Stevens overlooks that Russell is in the empiricist camp as well as the naturalist camp and the empiricist elements of Russell’s philosophy are secondary to his naturalism. (shrink)
§§1–7 of the Investigations should be taken at face value and not read against the grain. Wittgenstein is best understood as saying what he means and meaning what he says, and it is a mistake to suppose the examples of the shopkeeper and builders in §§1–2 cannot be read straightforwardly. The seven sections function as a prologue alerting the reader to the type of problem he intends to tackle and the type of approach he intends to pursue.
Russell and Wittgenstein largely agree on the twin questions of why pairs ofcongruent objects cannot always be made to coincide and why surfacescan never be uniformly two colours at once. Both philosophers takespace and colour to be mathematically representable, construe the relevantimpossibilities as mathematical and hold that mathematical impossibilityis at root logical. It is not by chance that Russell says nothingabout the phenomena in his Introduction to the Tractatus or surprisingthat Wittgenstein was unmoved by the objection that his account of (...) colourincompatibility puts paid to his early philosophy. (shrink)
Philosophical Investigations §§19–20 have received little critical attention and their importance has mostly gone unappreciated. In this paper these sections are examined a few sentences at a time in the order they were written with an eye to determining what Wittgenstein does and does not say and how he has been and can be misinterpreted. In addition it is suggested that the material deserves careful consideration because it sheds light on Wittgenstein’s way of tackling philosophical problems, illuminates his pronouncements about (...) philosophy later in the Investigations, and serves as a valuable antidote to the widely-held view that whenever he discusses a philosophical problem he ends up advancing a philosophical thesis. (shrink)
The argument of this paper is that Kuhn's account of rational theory choice is too permissive and that an account that recognizes the large-scale nature of the system of scientific beliefs is more plausible and has more practical force.