Is science unified or disunified? This collection brings together contributions from prominent scholars in a variety of scientific disciplines to examine this important theoretical question. They examine whether the sciences are, or ever were, unified by a single theoretical view of nature or a methodological foundation and the implications this has for the relationship between scientific disciplines and between science and society.
Duhem’s concept of “good sense” is central to his philosophy of science, given that it is what allows scientist to decide between competing theories. Scientists must use good sense and have intellectual and moral virtues in order to be neutral arbiters of scientific theories, especially when choosing between empirically adequate theories. I discuss the parallels in Duhem’s views to those of virtue epistemologists, who understand justified belief as that arrived at by a cognitive agent with intellectual and moral virtues, showing (...) how consideration of Duhem as a virtue epistemologist offers insights into his views, as well as providing possible answers to some puzzles about virtue epistemology. The extent to which Duhem holds that the intellectual and moral virtues of the scientist determine scientific knowledge has not been generally noticed. (shrink)
Recent defenses of a priori knowledge can be applied to the idea of conventions in science in order to indicate one important sense in which conventionalism is correctsome elements of physical theory have a unique epistemological status as a functionally a priori part of our physical theory. I will argue that the former a priori should be treated as empirical in a very abstract sense, but still conventional. Though actually coming closer to the Quinean position than recent defenses of a (...) priori knowledge, the picture of science developed here is very different from that developed in Quinean holism in that categories of knowledge can be differentiated. (shrink)
I trace the development of arguments for the consistency of non-Euclidean geometries and for the independence of the parallel postulate, showing how the arguments become more rigorous as a formal conception of geometry is introduced. I analyze the kinds of arguments offered by Jules Hoüel in 1860-1870 for the unprovability of the parallel postulate and for the existence of non-Euclidean geometries, especially his reaction to the publication of Beltrami’s seminal papers, showing that Beltrami was much more concerned with the existence (...) of non-Euclidean objects than he was with the formal consistency of non-Euclidean geometries. The final step towards rigorous consistency proofs is taken in the 1880s by Henri Poincaré. It is the formal conception of geometry, stripping the geometric primitive terms of their usual meanings, that allows the introduction of a modern fully rigorous consistency proof. (shrink)
Arthur Pap was not quite a Logical Empiricist. He wrote his dissertation in philosophy of science under Ernest Nagel, and he published a textbook in the philosophy of science at the end of his tragically short career, but most of his work would be classified as analytic philosophy. More important, he took some stands that went against Logical Empiricist orthodoxy and was a persistent if friendly critic of the movement. Pap diverged most strongly from Logical Empiricism in his theory of (...) a “functional a priori” in which fundamental principles of science are hardened into definitions and act as criteria for further inquiry. Pap was strongly influenced by the pragmatists C. I. Lewis and John Dewey in developing this alternative theory of a priori knowledge. Using Poincaré’s conventionalism as a springboard, Pap attempted to substantiate these views with examples from physics, and this was his largest foray into philosophy of science topics. Pap, as well as Lewis and Dewey, developed an alternative theory of the a priori in the 1950s that never quite took hold, despite the fact that their views are very intriguing and similar to Michael Friedman’s recent work on the constitutive a priori. (shrink)
The main innovation in Questioning Technology is Feenberg?s use of the results of various social constructivist accounts of science and technology to rethink the philosophy of technology. I agree with Feenberg that the social constructivist studies developed by historians and sociologists refute the essentialist account of technology that has been the mainstream position of philosophers of technology. The autonomy of technology seems to be nothing but a myth from the point of view of social construction, since social and political factors (...) always influence decisions made in technology and science. However, there is a tension in Feenberg?s position, in that he seems to want to keep the general analytical framework that the essentialist account of technology makes available, while at the same time rejecting essentialism and, indeed, showing forcefully how it gets in the way of the positive program he develops for democratizing technology. I argue that Feenberg should clarify what kind of social constructive account of technology he will adopt, and that the general categories for understanding technology that Feenberg retains are problematic. I conclude by arguing that a thoroughgoing antiessentialist philosophy of technology can still provide a general analysis of modernity and develop normative claims including those regarding social justice, without relying on general categories. (shrink)
In this book, David Stump traces alternative conceptions of the a priori in the philosophy of science and defends a unique position in the current debates over conceptual change and the constitutive elements in science. Stump emphasizes the unique epistemological status of the constitutive elements of scientific theories, constitutive elements being the necessary preconditions that must be assumed in order to conduct a particular scientific inquiry. These constitutive elements, such as logic, mathematics, and even some fundamental laws of nature, were (...) once taken to be a priori knowledge but can change, leading to a dynamic or relative a priori. Stump critically examines developments in thinking about constitutive elements in science as a priori knowledge, from Kant’s fixed and absolute a priori to Quine’s holistic empiricism. Here, Stump takes a different approach and argues that constitutive elements should be treated as empirical in an abstract sense, as well as constitutive. One must adopt these constitutive elements of science in order to begin empirical inquiry, and as such, these elements function as a priori for conceptual or pragmatic reasons. By examining the relationship between conceptual change and the epistemological status of constitutive elements in science, Stump puts forward an argument that scientific revolutions can be explained and relativism can be avoided without resorting to universals or absolutes. (shrink)