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Howard Sankey
University of Melbourne
  1. The Incommensurability Thesis.Howard Sankey - 1994 - Abingdon: Taylor and Francis.
    My 1994 book, The Incommensurability Thesis, has recently been re-issued in the Routledge Revivals series.
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  2. Scientific Realism and the Rationality of Science.Howard Sankey - 2008 - Ashgate.
    Scientific realism is the position that the aim of science is to advance on truth and increase knowledge about observable and unobservable aspects of the mind-independent world which we inhabit. This book articulates and defends that position. In presenting a clear formulation and addressing the major arguments for scientific realism Sankey appeals to philosophers beyond the community of, typically Anglo-American, analytic philosophers of science to appreciate and understand the doctrine. The book emphasizes the epistemological aspects of scientific realism and contains (...)
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  3. Realism and the Epistemic Objectivity of Science.Howard Sankey - 2021 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 35 (1):5-20.
    The paper presents a realist account of the epistemic objectivity of science. Epistemic objectivity is distinguished from ontological objectivity and the objectivity of truth. As background, T.S. Kuhn’s idea that scientific theory-choice is based on shared scientific values with a role for both objective and subjective factors is discussed. Kuhn’s values are epistemologically ungrounded, hence provide a minimal sense of objectivity. A robust account of epistemic objectivity on which methodological norms are reliable means of arriving at the truth is presented. (...)
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  4. Witchcraft, Relativism and the Problem of the Criterion.Howard Sankey - 2010 - Erkenntnis 72 (1):1-16.
    This paper presents a naturalistic response to the challenge of epistemic relativism. The case of the Azande poison oracle is employed as an example of an alternative epistemic norm which may be used to justify beliefs about everyday occurrences. While a distinction is made between scepticism and relativism, an argument in support of epistemic relativism is presented that is based on the sceptical problem of the criterion. A response to the resulting relativistic position is then provided on the basis of (...)
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  5.  23
    Theories of Scientific Method: An Introduction.Robert Nola & Howard Sankey - 2007 - Acumen Publishing.
    What is it to be scientific? Is there such a thing as scientific method? And if so, how might such methods be justified? Robert Nola and Howard Sankey seek to provide answers to these fundamental questions in their exploration of the major recent theories of scientific method. Although for many scientists their understanding of method is something they just pick up in the course of being trained, Nola and Sankey argue that it is possible to be explicit about what this (...)
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  6. Realism, Progress and the Historical Turn.Howard Sankey - 2017 - Foundations of Science 22 (1):201-214.
    The contemporary debate between scientific realism and anti-realism is conditioned by a polarity between two opposing arguments: the realist’s success argument and the anti-realist’s pessimistic induction. This polarity has skewed the debate away from the problem that lies at the source of the debate. From a realist point of view, the historical approach to the philosophy of science which came to the fore in the 1960s gave rise to an unsatisfactory conception of scientific progress. One of the main motivations for (...)
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  7. To Believe is to Believe True.Howard Sankey - 2019 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (1):131-136.
    It is argued that to believe is to believe true. That is, when one believes a proposition one thereby believes the proposition to be true. This is a point about what it is to believe rather than about the aim of belief or the standard of correctness for belief. The point that to believe is to believe true appears to be an analytic truth about the concept of belief. It also appears to be essential to the state of belief that (...)
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  8. Epistemic Relativism and the Problem of the Criterion.Howard Sankey - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (4):562-570.
    This paper explores the relationship between scepticism and epistemic relativism in the context of recent history and philosophy of science. More specifically, it seeks to show that significant treatments of epistemic relativism by influential figures in the history and philosophy of science draw upon the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. The paper begins with a presentation of the problem of the criterion as it occurs in the work of Sextus Empiricus. It is then shown that significant treatments of epistemic relativism (...)
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  9. Kuhn's Changing Concept of Incommensurability.Howard Sankey - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (4):759-774.
    Since 1962 Kuhn's concept of incommensurability has undergone a process of transformation. His current account of incommensurability has little in common with his original account of it. Originally, incommensurability was a relation of methodological, observational and conceptual disparity between paradigms. Later Kuhn restricted the notion to the semantical sphere and assimilated it to the indeterminacy of translation. Recently he has developed an account of it as localized translation failure between subsets of terms employed by theories.
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  10. Taxonomic Incommensurability.Howard Sankey - 1998 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 12 (1):7 – 16.
    In a shift of position that has gone largely unnoticed by the great majority of commentators, Thomas Kuhn's version of the incommensurability thesis underwent a major transformation over the last decade and a half of his life. In his later work, Kuhn argued that incommensurability is a relation of translation failure between local subsets of interdefined theoretical terms, which encapsulate the taxonomic structure of a theory. Incommensurability arises because it is impossible to transfer the natural categories employed within one taxonomic (...)
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  11.  8
    Incommensurability and Related Matters.Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Howard Sankey (eds.) - 2001 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    Incommensurability and Related Matters draws together some of the most distinguished contributors to the critical literature on the problem of the incommensurability of scientific theories. It addresses all the various problems raised by the problem of incommensurability, such as meaning change, reference of theoretical terms, scientific realism and anti-realism, rationality of theory choice, cognitive aspects of conceptual change, as well as exploring the broader implications of incommensurability for cultural difference. While it offers new work, and new directions of discussion, on (...)
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  12. Incommensurability: The Current State of Play.Howard Sankey - 1997 - Theoria 12 (3):425-445.
    The incommensurability thesis is the thesis that the content of some alternative scientific theories is incomparable due to translation failure between the vocabulary the theories employ. This paper presents an overview of the main issues which have arisen in the debate about incommensurability. It also briefly outlines a response to the thesis based on a modified causal theory of reference which allows change of reference subsequent to initial baptism, as well as a role to description in the determination of reference. (...)
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  13. Induction and Natural Kinds Revisited.Howard Sankey - 2021 - In Benjamin Hill, Henrik Lagerlund & Stathis Psillos (eds.), Reconsidering Causal Powers: Historical and Conceptual Perspectives. Oxford University Press. pp. 284-299.
    In ‘Induction and Natural Kinds’, I proposed a solution to the problem of induction according to which our use of inductive inference is reliable because it is grounded in the natural kind structure of the world. When we infer that unobserved members of a kind will have the same properties as observed members of the kind, we are right because all members of the kind possess the same essential properties. The claim that the existence of natural kinds is what grounds (...)
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  14. Scientific Realism: An Elaboration and a Defence.Howard Sankey - 2001 - Theoria A Journal of Social and Political Theory 98 (98):35-54.
    This paper describes the position of scientific realism and presents the basic lines of argument for the position. Simply put, scientific realism is the view that the aim of science is knowledge of the truth about observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent, objective reality. Scientific realism is supported by several distinct lines of argument. It derives from a non-anthropocentric conception of our place in the natural world, and it is grounded in the epistemology and metaphysics of common sense. Further, (...)
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  15. Scepticism, Relativism and the Argument From the Criterion.Howard Sankey - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 43 (1):182-190.
    This article explores the relationship between epistemic relativism and Pyrrhonian scepticism. It is argued that a fundamental argument for contemporary epistemic relativism derives from the Pyrrhonian problem of the criterion. Pyrrhonian scepticism is compared and contrasted with Cartesian scepticism about the external world and Humean scepticism about induction. Epistemic relativism is characterized as relativism due to the variation of epistemic norms, and is contrasted with other forms of cognitive relativism, such as truth relativism, conceptual relativism and ontological relativism. An argument (...)
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  16. Induction and Natural Kinds.Howard Sankey - 1997 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 1 (2):239-254.
    The paper sketches an ontological solution to an epistemological problem in the philosophy of science. Taking the work of Hilary Kornblith and Brian Ellis as a point of departure, it presents a realist solution to the Humean problem of induction, which is based on a scientific essentialist interpretation of the principle of the uniformity of nature. More specifically, it is argued that use of inductive inference in science is rationally justified because of the existence of real, natural kinds of things, (...)
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  17. Rationality, Relativism and Incommensurability.Howard Sankey - 1997 - Ashgate.
    This book concentrates on three topics: the problem of the semantic incommensurability of theories; the non-algorithmic character of rational scientific theory choice and naturalised accounts of the rationality of methodological change. The underlying aim is to show how the phenomenon of extensive conceptual and methodological variation in science need not give rise to a thorough-going epistemic or conceptual relativism.
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  18. Objective Facts.Howard Sankey - 2022 - Metaphysica 23 (1):117-121.
    This is a brief exploration of the notion of an objective fact. The form of objectivity at issue is distinct from epistemic objectivity or objectivity about truth. It is an ontological form of objectivity. Objective facts may obtain whether or not we know, believe or are aware of them. They depend upon objects, for example, on the properties that objects have or the relationships into which objects enter. Setting scepticism to one side, there is a perfectly mundane sense in which (...)
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  19. Methodological Pluralism, Normative Naturalism and the Realist Aim of Science.Howard Sankey - 2000 - In Howard Sankey & Robert Nola (eds.), After Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend: Recent Issues in Theories of Scientific Method. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 211-229.
    There are two chief tasks which confront the philosophy of scientific method. The first task is to specify the methodology which serves as the objective ground for scientific theory appraisal and acceptance. The second task is to explain how application of this methodology leads to advance toward the aim(s) of science. In other words, the goal of the theory of method is to provide an integrated explanation of both rational scientific theory choice and scientific progress.
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  20. Scientific Realism and the Semantic Incommensurability Thesis.Howard Sankey - 2009 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (2):196-202.
    This paper reconsiders the challenge presented to scientific realism by the semantic incommensurability thesis. A twofold distinction is drawn between methodological and semantic incommensurability, and between semantic incommensurability due to variation of sense and due to discontinuity of reference. Only the latter presents a challenge to scientific realism. The realist may dispose of this challenge on the basis of a modified causal theory of reference, as argued in the author’s 1994 book, The incommensurability thesis. This referential response has been the (...)
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  21. Scientific Realism And The Inevitability Of Science.Howard Sankey - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):259-264.
    This paper examines the question of whether scientific realism is committed to the inevitability of science or is consistent with claims of the contingency of science. In order to address this question, a general characterization of the position of scientific realism is presented. It is then argued that scientific realism has no evident implications with regard to the inevitability of science. A historical case study is presented in which contingency plays a significant role, and the appropriate realist response to this (...)
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  22. Factivity or Grounds? Comment on Mizrahi.Howard Sankey - 2019 - Logos and Episteme: An International Journal of Epistemology 10 (3):333-4.
    This is a comment on Moti Mizrahi's paper ' You Can't Handle the Truth: Knowledge = Epistemic Certainty'. Mizrahi claims that the factivity of knowledge entails that knowledge requires epistemic certainty. But the argument that Mizrahi presents does not proceed from factivity to certainty. Instead, it proceeds from a premise about the relationship between grounds and knowledge to the conclusion about certainty.
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  23. Rethinking Scientific Change and Theory Comparison: Stabilities, Ruptures, Incommensurabilities?Lena Soler, Howard Sankey & Paul Hoyningen-Huene - 2008 - Springer.
    The volume is a collection of essays devoted to the analysis of scientific change and stability. It explores the balance and tension that exist between commensurability and continuity on the one hand, and incommensurability and discontinuity on the other. Moreover, it discusses some central epistemological consequences regarding the nature of scientific progress, rationality and realism. In relation to these topics, it investigates a number of new avenues, and revisits some familiar issues, with a focus on the history and philosophy of (...)
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  24.  58
    Scientific Realism: An Elaboration and a Defence.Howard Sankey - 2001 - Theoria 48 (98):35-54.
    This paper describes the position of scientific realism and presents the basic lines of argument for the position. Simply put, scientific realism is the view that the aim of science is knowledge of the truth about observable and unobservable aspects of a mind-independent, objective reality. Scientific realism is supported by several distinct lines of argument. It derives from a non-anthropocentric conception of our place in the natural world, and it is grounded in the epistemology and metaphysics of common sense. Further, (...)
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  25. Scientific Realism and the Conflict with Common Sense.Howard Sankey - 2020 - In Wenceslao J. Gonzalez (ed.), New Approaches to Scientific Realism. Berlin: De Gruyter. pp. 68-83.
    In this paper, I explore the purported conflict between science and common sense within the context of scientific realism. I argue for a version of scientific realism which retains commitment to realism about common sense rather than seeking to eliminate it.
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  26. Kuhn, Relativism and Realism.Howard Sankey - 2018 - In Juha Saatsi (ed.), The Routledge Handbook of Scientific Realism. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 72-83.
    The aim of this chapter is to explore the relationship between Kuhn’s views about science and scientific realism. I present an overview of key features of Kuhn’s model of scientific change. The model suggests a relativistic approach to the methods of science. I bring out a conflict between this relativistic approach and a realist approach to the norms of method. I next consider the question of progress and truth. Kuhn’s model is a problem-solving model that proceeds by way of puzzles (...)
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  27. Methodological Incommensurability and Epistemic Relativism.Howard Sankey - 2013 - Topoi 32 (1):33-41.
    This paper revisits one of the key ideas developed in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In particular, it explores the methodological form of incommensurability which may be found in the original edition of Structure. It is argued that such methodological incommensurability leads to a form of epistemic relativism. In later work, Kuhn moved away from the original idea of methodological incommensurability with his idea of a set of epistemic values that provides a basis for rational theory choice, but do not (...)
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  28. In Defence of Untranslatability.Howard Sankey - 1990 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 68 (1):1 – 21.
    This paper addresses criticisms of the concept of untranslatability which Davidson and Putnam have raised against the incommensurability thesis.
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  29. How the Epistemic Relativist May Use the Sceptic’s Strategy: A Reply to Markus Seidel.Howard Sankey - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):140-144.
    This paper is a response to an objection that Markus Seidel has made to my analysis of epistemic relativism. Seidel argues that the epistemic relativist is unable to base a relativist account of justification on the sceptical problem of the criterion in the way that I have suggested in earlier work. In response to Seidel, I distinguish between weak and strong justification, and argue that all the relativist needs is weak justification. In addition, I explain my reasons for employing the (...)
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  30. After Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend: Recent Issues in Theories of Scientific Method.Robert Nola & Howard Sankey (eds.) - 2000 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    Some think that issues to do with scientific method are last century's stale debate; Popper was an advocate of methodology, but Kuhn, Feyerabend, and others are alleged to have brought the debate about its status to an end. The papers in this volume show that issues in methodology are still very much alive. Some of the papers reinvestigate issues in the debate over methodology, while others set out new ways in which the debate has developed in the last decade. The (...)
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  31.  41
    K. Brad Wray, Kuhn's Intellectual Path[REVIEW]Howard Sankey - 2022 - BJPS Review of Books.
    This is a draft of a book review of Brad Wray's book Kuhn's Intellectual Path.
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  32. Incommensurability and Theory Change.Howard Sankey - 2011 - In Steven Hales (ed.), A Companion to Relativism. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 456-474.
    The paper explores the relativistic implications of the thesis of incommensurability. A semantic form of incommensurability due to semantic variation between theories is distinguished from a methodological form due to variation in methodological standards between theories. Two responses to the thesis of semantic incommensurability are dealt with: the first challenges the idea of untranslatability to which semantic incommensurability gives rise; the second holds that relations of referential continuity eliminate semantic incommensurability. It is then argued that methodological incommensurability poses little risk (...)
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  33. A Selective Survey of Theories of Scientific Method.Howard Sankey & Robert Nola - 2000 - In Robert Nola & Howard Sankey (eds.), After Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend: Recent Issues in Theories of Scientific Method. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp. 1-65.
    This is a survey of theories of scientific method which opens the book "After Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend: Recent Issues in Theories of Scientific Method".
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  34. Introduction.Howard Sankey & Paul Hoyningen-Huene - 2001 - In Paul Hoyningen-Huene & Howard Sankey (eds.), Incommensurability and Related Matters. Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  35.  45
    On Mr Truetemp's Lack of Virtue.Howard Sankey - manuscript
    Keith Lehrer described the case of Mr Truetemp, who has reliably formed true beliefs about the temperature. The beliefs are produced by the action of a device (a "tempucomp" ) which has been surgically implanted in Truetemp's skull without his knowledge. The case is designed as a counterexample to process reliabilism. This short paper explores the question whether virtue epistemology is able to deal with the Truetemp case. It is argued that virtue-theoretic considerations lead to the rejection of the Truetemp (...)
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  36. Scientific Realism and Basic Common Sense.Howard Sankey - 2014 - Kairos. Revista de Filosofia and Ciência 10:11-24.
    This paper considers the relationship between science and common sense. It takes as its point of departure, Eddington’s distinction between the table of physics and the table of common sense, as well as Eddington’s suggestion that science shows common sense to be false. Against the suggestion that science shows common sense to be false, it is argued that there is a form of common sense, basic common sense, which is not typically overthrown by scientific research. Such basic common sense is (...)
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  37.  48
    K. Brad Wray (Ed.) Interpreting Kuhn: Critical Essays[REVIEW]Howard Sankey - forthcoming - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science.
  38.  29
    La objetividad de la ciencia.Howard Sankey - forthcoming - In Juan Carlos Aguirre Garcia & L. Jaramillo (eds.), La Objetividad en las ciencias humanas. Popayan: Samava Ediciones.
    I distinguish three primary notions of objectivity that may be applied to the sciences. There is an ontological sense of objectivity which relates to the way in which the natural world exists independently of human thought. There is a semantic form of objectivity which relates to the nature of truth. There is an epistemic notion of objectivity which relates to the methodological norms and procedures which are employed in the sciences, and the epistemic justification of beliefs and theories which are (...)
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  39. Causation and Laws of Nature.Howard Sankey (ed.) - 1999 - Kluwer Academic Publishers.
    This is a collection of articles which represents current research on the metaphysics of causation and laws of nature, mostly by authors working in or active in the Australasian region. The book provides an overview of current work on the theory of causation, including counterfactual, singularist, nomological and causal process approaches. It also covers work on the nature of laws of nature, with special emphasis on the scientific essentialist theory that laws of nature are, at base, the fundamental dispositions or (...)
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  40. Incommensurability, Translation and Understanding.Howard Sankey - 1991 - Philosophical Quarterly 41 (165):414-426.
    This paper addresses the issue of how it is possible to understand the language of an incommensurable theory. The aim is to defend the idea of translation failure against the objection that it incoherently precludes understanding.
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  41. Neither a Truism nor a Triviality: Reply to Grzankowski.Howard Sankey - 2019 - Principia: An International Journal of Epistemology 23 (2):361-365.
    This is a reply to Alex Grzankowski’s comment on my paper, ‘To Believe is to Believe True’. I argue that one may believe a proposition to be true without possessing the concept of truth. I note that to believe the proposition P to be true is not the same as to believe the proposition ‘P is true’. This avoids the regress highlighted by Grzankowski in which the concept of truth is employed an infinite number of times in a single belief.
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  42. Why Must Justification Guarantee Truth? Reply to Mizrahi.Howard Sankey - 2019 - Logos and Episteme: An International Journal of Epistemology 10 (4):445-447.
    This reply provides further grounds to doubt Mizrahi’s argument for an infallibilist theory of knowledge. It is pointed out that the fact that knowledge requires both truth and justification does not entail that the level of justification required for knowledge be sufficient to guarantee truth. In addition, an argument presented by Mizrahi appears to equivocate with respect to the interpretation of the phrase “p cannot be false”.
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  43. Scientific Method.Howard Sankey - 2008 - In Stathis Psillos & Martin Curd (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Science. London and New York: Routledge. pp. 248-258.
  44. Kuhn's Ontological Relativism.Howard Sankey - 2000 - Science & Education 9 (1-2):59-75.
    In this paper, I provide an interpretation of ontological aspects of Kuhn's theory of science.
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  45. Kuhn, Values and Academic Freedom.Howard Sankey - 2021 - Logos and Episteme: An International Journal of Epistemology 12 (4):463-467.
    For Kuhn, there are a number of values which provide scientists with a shared basis for theory-choice. These values include accuracy, breadth, consistency, simplicity and fruitfulness. Each of these values may be interpreted in different ways. Moreover, there may be conflict between the values in application to specific theories. In this short paper, Kuhn's idea of scientific values is extended to the value of academic freedom. The value of academic freedom may be interpreted in a number of different ways. Moreover, (...)
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  46. Realism, Method and Truth.Howard Sankey - 2002 - In Michele Marsonet (ed.), The Problem of Realism. Aldershot: Ashgate. pp. 64-81.
    What is the relation between method and truth? Are we justified in accepting a theory that satisfies the rules of scientific method as true? Such questions divide realism from anti-realism in the philosophy of science. Scientific realists take the methods of science to promote the realist aim of correspondence truth. Anti-realists either claim that the methods of science promote lesser epistemic goals than realist truth, or else they reject the realist conception of truth altogether. In this paper, I propose a (...)
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  47. Ciencia, realidad y racionalidad.Howard Sankey - 2015 - University of Cauca Press.
    This is a collection of my essays in the philosophy of science which have been translated into Spanish.
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  48. Reference, Success and Entity Realism.Howard Sankey - 2012 - Kairos. Revista de Filosofia and Ciência 5:31-42.
    The paper discusses the version of entity realism presented by Ian Hacking in his book, Representing and Intervening. Hacking holds that an ontological form of scientific realism, entity realism, may be defended on the basis of experimental practices which involve the manipulation of unobservable entities. There is much to be said in favour of the entity realist position that Hacking defends, especially the pragmatist orientation of his approach to realism. But there are problems with the position. The paper explores two (...)
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  49. Normative Naturalism and the Challenge of Relativism: Laudan Versus Worrall on the Justification of Methodological Principles.Howard Sankey - 1996 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 10 (1):37 – 51.
    In a recent exchange, John Worrall and Larry Laudan have debated the merits of the model of rational scientific change proposed by Laudan in his book Science and Values. On the model advocated by Laudan, rational change may take place at the level of scientific theory and methodology, as well as at the level of the epistemic aims of science. Moreover, the rationality of a change which occurs at any one of these three levels may be dependent on considerations at (...)
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  50. Ciencia, Sentido Comun Y Realidad.Howard Sankey - 2010 - Discusiones Filosóficas 11 (16):41-58.
    ¿La ciencia otorga conocimiento de la realidad? En este artículo ofrezco una respuesta positiva a esta pregunta. Rechazo la pretensión anti-realista según la cual somos incapaces de adquirir conocimiento de la realidad; al contrario, apoyo la visión realista que afirma que la ciencia produce conocimiento del mundo externo. Pero: ¿cuál mundo es ese? Algunos sostienen que la ciencia conduce a la superación de nuestra visión del mundo dada por el sentido común. El sentido común es la “metafísica de la edad (...)
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