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)
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, thus 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. 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)
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)
Poincare’s arguments for his thesis of the conventionality of metric depend on a relationalist program for dynamics, not on any general philosophical interpretation of science. I will sketch Poincare’s development of the relationalist program and show that his arguments for the conventionality of metric do not depend on any global strategies such as a general empiricism or Duhemian underdetermination arguments. Poincare’s theory of space, while empirically false, is more philosophically sophisticated than his critics have claimed.
Naturalism implies unity of method--an application of the methods of science to the methodology of science itself and to value theory. Epistemological naturalists have tried to find a privileged discipline to be the methodological model of philosophy of science and epistemology. However, since science itself is not unitary, the use of one science as a model amounts to a reduction and distorts the philosophy of science just as badly as traditional philosophy of science distorted science, despite the fact that the (...) central theme of naturalized philosophy of science is that methodology should be true to science as practiced. I argue that naturalized philosophy of science must apply a plurality of methods to epistemological issues. (shrink)
New perspectives on Pierre Duhem’s The aim and structure of physical theory Content Type Journal Article DOI 10.1007/s11016-010-9467-3 Authors Anastasios Brenner, Department of Philosophy, Paul Valéry University-Montpellier III, Route De Mende, 34199 Montpellier cedex 5, France Paul Needham, Department of Philosophy, University of Stockholm, 10691 Stockholm, Sweden David J. Stump, Department of Philosophy, University of San Francisco, 2130 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94117, USA Robert Deltete, Department of Philosophy, Seattle University, 901 12th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122-1090, USA Journal Metascience (...) Online ISSN 1467-9981 Print ISSN 0815-0796 Journal Volume Volume 20 Journal Issue Volume 20, Number 1. (shrink)
In april 1872, with the caisson at a depth of seventy-odd feet and still no bedrock, two men died. The strain for Roebling was nearly unbearable, as his wife later said. On May 18, a third man died, and that same day Roebling made the most difficult and courageous decision of the project. Staking everything — the success of the bridge, his reputation, his career - he ordered a halt. The New York tower, he had concluded, could stand where it (...) was, at a depth of 78 feet 6 inches, not on bedrock, but on “hardpack” sand. From examinations of the strata he had determined to his own satisfaction that no movement had occured at the level since the time of deposit millions of years in the geologic past; so, he said, it was “good enough to found upon”. (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)
Poincaré's claim that Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries are translatable has generally been thought to be based on his introduction of a model to prove the consistency of Lobachevskian geometry and to be equivalent to a claim that Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometries are logically isomorphic axiomatic systems. In contrast to the standard view, I argue that Poincaré's translation thesis has a mathematical, rather than a meta-mathematical basis. The mathematical basis of Poincaré's translation thesis is that the underlying manifolds of Euclidean and (...) Lobachevskian geometries are homeomorphic. Assuming as Poincaré does that metric relations are not factual, it follows that we can rewrite a physical theory using Euclidean geometry as one using Lobachevskian geometry and express the same facts. (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)
While Ludwik Fleck's Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact is mainly concerned with social elements in science, a central argument depends on his case study of the development of a serum test for syphilis, the Wasserman Reaction, which Fleck argues was the product of skill and of laboratory practice, not a simple discovery. Ian Hacking interprets the creation of new phenomena in science very differently, arguing that it can seen as an argument for scientific realism. Hacking's argument shows that (...) Fleck's case study does not lead to the conclusion Fleck expects, and may solve one of the main problems in Fleck's work, how to define an objective element of knowledge. (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)
Members of the Vienna Circle played a pivotal role in defining the work that came to be known as the philosophy of science, yet the Vienna Circle itself is now known to have had much broader concerns and to have been more rooted in philosophical tradition than was once thought. Like current and past philosophers of science, members of the Vienna Circle took science as the object of philosophical reflection but they also endeavored to render philosophy in general compatible with (...) contemporary science and to define and promote a scientific world view. This latter task seems to continue the work of so-called scientific philosophy, a label embraced by many philosophers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, such as Helmholtz, Mach, Avenarius, the neo-Kantians, Husserl, Carus, Peirce, and, of course, Russell during the period when he was applying modern logic to philosophical problems. Russell’s program influenced Carnap directly, though the idea of applying modem logic to philosophical problems became a defining feature of analytic philosophy and was applied to many areas of philosophy, not only to the philosophy of science. Scientific philosophy included the promotion of the cultural values of modernity, especially the values embodied in the scientific world conception. By exploring the various meanings ascribed to scientific philosophy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, I will investigate whether the promotion of scientific philosophy and of the values associated with a scientific world conception is merely part of a transitory social context within which Logical Positivism developed or if it is an enduring part of the philosophy of science. Moreover, the residue of values remaining in the philosophy of science can be brought to light by studying its history. (shrink)