Why, for such a long time, has there been no Kantian point of view among the most influential theories about thought experiments? The primary historical reason the main trends in the philosophy of science have always rejected the existence of a priori knowledge fits a theoretical reason. Kant oscillated between two very different views about the a priori: on the one hand, he attributed to it a particular content, whereas on the other hand he insisted on its purely (...) formal character. The first interpretation of the a priori was one-sidedly developed by Ørsted and led to his untenable notion of thought experiment. The other interpretation, however, can be further developed into new Kantian theories of thought experiments in the natural sciences and in philosophy. (shrink)
The terms “perspectivism” and “perspectivalism” have been the focus of an intense philosophical discussion with important repercussions for the debate about the role of mechanisms in scientific explanations. However, leading exponents of the new mechanistic philosophy have conceded more than was necessary to the radically subjectivistic perspectivalism, and fell into the opposite error, by retaining not negligible residues of objectivistic views about mechanisms. In order to remove this vacillation between the subjective-cultural and the objective-natural sides of mechanisms, we shall raise (...) the question about theory-ladenness over again and interpret it in its connection with the technical–experimental nature of scientific knowledge, as affirming the perspectival character of scientific knowledge: It is because of the character at once theory-laden and practice-laden, i.e. technique-laden, of our putting questions to nature that empirical reality must be investigated from particular perspectives: nature can be known scientifically only from a potentially infinite number of perspectives or theoretical points of view, concretely exemplified by mechanisms or experimental ‘machines’ that allow specific access to specific aspects of sensible reality. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to examine two important issues concerning the agency theory of causality: the charge of anthropomorphism and the relation of simultaneous causation. After a brief outline of the agency theory, sections 2–4 contain the refutation of the three main forms in which the charge of anthropomorphism is to be found in the literature. It will appear that it is necessary to distinguish between the subjective and the objective aspect of the concept of causation. This will (...) lead, in section 5, to contrast two kinds of anthropomorphism, one which has been rightly rejected by modern science and one which is fully compatible with the objective reality of the causal processes. Finally, section 6 will apply the preceding considerations to simultaneous causation. On the one hand, in a basic sense, there can be no simultaneous causal relations. On the other hand, simultaneous causation arises when we consider the natural change by abstracting from the agent and from her/his projects of interven.. (shrink)
Thought experiments de facto play many different roles in biology: economical, ethical, technical and so forth. This paper, however, is interested in whether there are any distinctive features of biological TEs as such. The question may be settled in the affirmative because TEs in biology have a function that is intimately connected with the epistemological and methodological status of biology. Peculiar to TEs in biology is the fact that the reflexive, typically human concept of finality may be profitably employed to (...) discover mechanical-experimental causal relations in all living beings—with the obvious caveat that we do not hypostatise and interpret this concept as an ontological quality, since this would land one in an implicitly animistic, pre-Galilean view of nature. From a methodical point of view, the concept of finality is an essential assumption as well as a powerful heuristic tool in the practice of biology, that is, in the investigation of living beings in an intersubjectively testable and reproducible way. (shrink)
On the relation between experiment and thought experiment in the natural sciences. To understand the reciprocal autonomy and complementarity of thought and real experiment, it is necessary to distinguish between a ‘positive’ (empirical or formal) and a transcendental perspective. Empirically and formally, real and thought experiments are indistinguishable. However, from a reflexive-transcendental viewpoint thought experiment is at the same time irreducible and complementary to real experiment. This is due to the fact that the hypothetical-anticipatory moment is in principle irreducible to (...) physical reality—even though it refers to physical reality and is bound with the empirical use of our understanding. The presence of counterfactuals is the condition of the possibility for thought experiments to become in principle real ones, by means of a series of technical realisations that gradually approximate the idealisations that they contain. (shrink)
This paper replies to objections that have been raised against my operational-Kantian account of thought experiments by Fehige 2012 and 2013. Fehige also sketches an alternative Neo-Kantian account that utilizes Michael Friedman’s concept of a contingent and changeable a priori. To this I shall reply, first, that Fehige’s objections not only neglect some fundamental points I had made as regards the realizability of TEs, but also underestimate the principle of empiricism, which was rightly defended by Kant. Secondly, in opposition to (...) what he states, my account does not differ in a very essential way from the empiricist solutions either as regards the power of TEs to predict something new about empirical reality, or as regards the criteria for telling apart good from bad TEs. Thirdly, in the light of the Kantian definition of the a priori, Friedman’s corresponding notion is contrary both to the spirit and to the letter of Kant’s philosophy; moreover, from a theoretical point of view, a material a priori is theoretically untenable since, counter to Friedman’s own intentions, it leads to relativism. -/- . (shrink)
Operationalism and theoretical entities. The thesis of the“theory ladenness” of observation leads to an antinomy. In order to solve this antinomy a technical operationalism is sketched, according to which theories should in principle not contain anything that cannot be reduced to technical procedures. This implies the rejection of Quine's underdeterminacy thesis and of many views about the theoretical-observational distinction, e.g. neopositivistic views, van Fraassen's view, Sneed-Stegmüller's view. Then I argue for the following theses: 1. All scientific concepts are theory laden (...) in the sense that they allow us to anticipate possible experiences, but they have to be in principle fully observable, i.e. integrally convertible into operational-technical applications. 2. The observation/theory distinction can be maintained as a historical one: what is observable depends on the instruments that are available at any stage of the development of science. 3.In principle theoretical entities are empirically real in Hacking's sense. However, some aspects of Hacking's realism are to be criticized. Theoretical entities are to be resolved into the totality of the interrelated properties accessible to us by means of theoretical points of view embodied in scientific instruments. (shrink)
All the powerful influences exertedby the subjective-interpersonal dimension onthe organic or technical-functional dimensionof sickness and health do not make anintersubjective test concerning medicaltherapeutic results impossible. Theseinfluences are not arbitrary; on the contrary,they obey laws that are de facto sufficientlystable to allow predictions and explanationssimilar to those of experimental sciences.While, in this respect, the rules concerninghuman action are analogous to the scientificlaws of nature, they can at any time be revokedby becoming aware of them. Law-like andreproducible regularities in the sciences ofman (...) are by no means separated from a patient'spersonal-hermeneutic mediation. This makes itpossible for human beings to modify, improve orsometimes even entirely (or better almostentirely) suspend these psychological,sociological, ethnological, medical,regularities. For this reason the sciences ofman including medicine are under the obligationof constantly inspecting the continuingvalidity of the rules on which theirpredictions and explanations are based, namelyby indirect, statistical methods. Thisrequires a synergistic collaboration ofextra-clinical and clinical tests through whichmedicine can obtain a good level ofintersubjective testability. (shrink)
The often-emphasized tension between the singularity of the patient and technicalâscientific reproducibility in medicine cannot be resolved without a discussion of the epistemological and methodological status of the human sciences. On the one hand, the rules concerning human action are analogous to the scientific laws of nature. They are de facto sufficiently stable to allow predictions and explanations similar to those of experimental sciences. From this point of view, it is only a trivial truth, but still a methodological irrelevancy, that (...) the patient and the doctorâpatient relationship represent an ontologically irreproducible reality. On the other hand, however, one can never exclude that one can fail in the application of "laws" of the human sciences to the individual patient, for such laws are by no means wholly separated from a patient's personal-hermeneutic mediation, and can at any time be revoked by becoming aware of them. This requires a synergistic collaboration of clinical and statistical methods, and shows a methodologically relevant sense in which one cannot disregard the singularity of the patient. The reason for the crucial role of the patient's singularity in medicine is every individual patient's capacity to revoke, in principle, routines and quasi-automatisms, even though the personal mediation by the patient's consciousness de facto changes them in such a small degree that predictions and explanations modeled in experimental science remain possible. (shrink)
The paper addresses the question of the nature and limits of philosophical thought experiments. On the one hand, experimental philosophers are right to claim that we need much more laboratory work in order to have more reliable thought experiments, but on the other hand a naturalism that is too radical is incapable of clarifying the peculiarity of thought experiments in philosophy. Starting from a historico-critical reconstruction of Kant’s concept of the “experiments of pure reason”, this paper outlines an account of (...) thought experiments in philosophy that tries to reconcile the thesis of a principled difference between scientific and philosophical TEs with the position of a methodological naturalism that does not admit any difference in kind between the methods of science and of philosophy. (shrink)
Popper's methodological individualism and the social sciences. Popper's philosophy of social sciences poses a dilemma that arises out of the two theses of methodological individualism and situational logic. In order to find a way out of this dilemma, one must raise the question concerning the epistemological and methodological status of the `laws' of the human sciences. There are indeed `rules' from which human actions depart mostly to a negligible extent, but they remain valid or stay in effect without exception only (...) as far as they are not re-evoked or re-emerge in the consciousness of the agents. The element of truth of methodological individualism lies in the person's capacity to revoke, in principle, the validity of the rules concerning oneself. Situational logic and methodological individualism can thus be reconciled. (shrink)
Hermeneutic and anti-hermeneutic sides in the debate about psychoanalysis are entangled in an epistemological and methodological antinomy, here exemplified by Grünbaum's and Spence's paradigmatic views. Both contain a partial element of truth, which they assert dialectically one against the other (§§ 1 and 2). This antinomy disappears only by reconciling an operationalist approach with man's ability to suspend the effectiveness of the‘laws’ applied to him (§ 3). The hermeneutic way in which the technical-operational criterion of truth works in psychoanalysis demands (...) that clinical and extra-clinical testing methods work synergically, through a fruitful self-correcting strategy, grounded on the very psychoanalytic object: the unconscious (§ 4). (shrink)
Nella sua straordinaria opera scientifica, Franco Selleri si è sempre opposto alla rinuncia alla comprensione della struttura della realtà e della natura degli oggetti fisici, che egli considera come l’elemento caratterizzante delle principali teorie della fisica del Novecento e che è stata stigmatizzata da Karl Popper come tesi della “fine della strada in fisica”. Sin dalla fine degli anni ’60, egli ha sviluppato quella riflessione critica nei confronti delle teorie fondamentali della fisica moderna, in particolar modo della teoria delle particelle (...) elementari e della meccanica quantistica, e in un secondo tempo delle teorie relativistiche, che contraddistingue il suo programma di ricerca. Nel corso della sua intensa e infaticabile attività scientifica, Selleri è entrato in proficuo contatto con molti grandi fisici e filosofi della scienza, instaurando un intenso dialogo critico con Louis de Broglie, John Bell e Karl Popper. Le sue originali e non convenzionali ricerche lo hanno portato a risultati significativi non solo nell’ambito dei fondamenti della fisica, ma anche della storia e della filosofia della fisica. Per questo abbiamo voluto dedicare un numero speciale di Isonomia al nostro impareggiabile amico e collega, sia per la sua passione instancabile e la sua profonda conoscenza dei fondamenti formali, concettuali e filosofici delle teorie della fisica contemporanea, sia e forse ancor più come maestro di una prospettiva perennemente critica che egli ha sempre seguito e proposto con particolare rigore ed estrema determinazione. (shrink)
Building on a previously published contextualization of MarcoBuzzoni’s Neo- Kantian account of scientific thought-experiments, this paper examines the explanatory power of this account. It is argued that Buzzoni’s account suffers from a number of shortcomings. Einstein’s clock-in-the-box thought experiment facilitates the demonstration of these deficits. In the light of both the identified inadequacies of Buzzoni’s account and the long-standing history of Kantian approaches to thought experiments, this paper finally sketches an alternative Neo-Kantian account. This alternative (...) utilizes Michael Friedman’s reading of Kant’s a priori within a Kuhnian account of thought experiments along the lines of conceptual constructivism as anticipated by Georg Lichtenberg and further developed recently by Tamar Gendler. (shrink)
Ethical dilemmas often arise when conflict exists. Examples of conflict creating an ethical dilemma may include conflict between two or more principles of bioethics, conflict arising from insufficient information available to discern the appropriate course of action, or conflict between two or more goals of medical interventions. The basic principles of bioethics provide a framework for studying and applying bioethics. Difficulty arises when these principles are not easily addressed or when a clinical situation presents conflict between principles.
MarcoBuzzoni has presented a Kantian account of thought experiments in science as a serious rival to the current empiricist and Platonic accounts. This paper takes the first steps of a comprehensive assessment of this account in order to further the more general discussion of the feasibility of a Kantian theory of scientific thought experiments. Such a discussion is overdue. To this effect the broader question is addressed as to what motivates a Kantian approach. Buzzoni's account and (...) the assessment developed in this paper are warranted by the fact that the history of philosophical inquiry into thought experiments is deeply interwoven with Kant's philosophy. This history will be depicted here for the first time in more comprehensive terms to contextualize Buzzoni's account in historical and systematic perspective. (shrink)
The author starts from the notion that science is a human construction coming from a human way of knowing. One feature of this way of knowing is found in defining a research process. Therefore, he presents the importance of the theoretical framework in such process. The author also frames the concep..
In The Logic of Scientific Discovery Karl Popper rejected psicologism, i. e., the doctrine that statements can be justified not only by statements but also by perceptual experience. According to him, this doctrine founders on the problem of induction and of universals. For we can utter no scie..