Since the publication of Carl Hempel and Paul Oppenheim's ground-breaking work "Studies in the Logic of Explanation," the theory of explanation has remained a major topic in the philosophy of science. This valuable collection provides readers with the opportunity to study some of the classic essays on the theory of explanation along with the best examples of the most recent work being done on the topic. In addition to the original Hempel and Oppenheim paper, the volume includes Scriven's critical reaction (...) to it, Wilfrid Sellars's discussion of the problem of theoretical explanation, and pieces by Salmon, Railton, van Fraassen, Friedman, Kitcher, and Achinstein in which they demonstrate the vitality of the subject by extending the scope of the inquiry. (shrink)
What do appeals to case studies accomplish? Consider the dilemma: On the one hand, if the case is selected because it exemplifies the philosophical point, then it is not clear that the historical data hasn't been manipulated to fit the point. On the other hand, if one starts with a case study, it is not clear where to go from there—for it is unreasonable to generalize from one case or even two or three.
The question is how do Scanning Electron Microscopes (SEMs) give us access to the nano world? The images these instruments produce, I argue, do not allow us to see atoms in the same way that we see trees. To the extent that SEMs and STMs allow us to see the occupants of the nano world it is by way of metaphorical extension of the concept of “seeing”. The more general claim is that changes in scientific instrumentation effect changes in the (...) concepts central to our understanding of scientific results. (shrink)
It is argued that the question “Can we trust technology?” is unanswerable because it is open-ended. Only questions about specific issues that can have specific answers should be entertained. It is further argued that the reason the question cannot be answered is that there is no such thing as Technology simpliciter. Fundamentally, the question comes down to trusting people and even then, the question has to be specific about trusting a person to do this or that.
In this collection we finally find the philosophy of technology, a young and rapidly developing area of scholarly interest, making contact with history of science and technology, and mainstream epistemological and metaphysical issues. The sophistication of these papers indicates the maturity of the field as it moves away from the advocacy of anti-technology ideological posturing toward a deeper understanding of the options and restraints technological developments provide. The papers presented here take us over a threshold into the real world of (...) complicated social and technological interactions where science and art are shown to be integral to our understanding of technological change, and technological innovations are seen as configuring our knowledge of the world and opening up new possibilities for human development. With its rich historical base, this volume will be of interest to all students concerned about the interactions among technology, society, and philosophy. (shrink)
It is argued that Galileo's theory of justification was a version of explanationism. Galileo's Dialogue on the Two Chief World Systems is to be read as primarily a defense of his theory of the tides. He shows how, by assuming Copernican motions, he can explain the tides, thereby justifying the endorsement of Copernicus. The crux of the argument rests on Galileo's account of explanation, which is novel in its reliance on the use of geometry. Finally, the consequences of his use (...) of geometry, and his views on the limits of knowledge, force us to conclude that if Galileo was a realist, his realism was so highly constrained as to be irrelevant. (shrink)
The papers presented here derive from the 4th International Confe:--ence on History and Philosophy of Science held in Blacksburg, Virginia, U. S. A., November 2-6, 1982. The Conference was sponsored by the I nternational Union of History and Philosophy of Science and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. Particular thanks go to L. Jonathan Cohen, Secretary of the Union, as well as to Dean Henry Bauer of the College of Arts & Sciences, Wilfred Jewkes and the Center for Programs in (...) the Humanities, Arthur Donovan and the Center for the Study of Science in Society and the Department of Philoso phy and Religion at Virginia Tech. Not only did they come through with the necessat"y funds, but they were all always ready with a helping hand when things got confusing. Two additional groups of individuals require a special note of thanks. First, considerable appreciation is due the mem bers of the Joint Commission of the I nternational Union of History and Philosophy of Science: Maurice Crosland, Risto Hilpinen and Vladimir Kirsanov. They were more than gen erous in thei r advice and co-operation. The Local Organizing Committee not only demon strated efficiency and insured a pleasant stay for' all participants, but also went out of their way on numerous occasions to make everyone feel at home. (shrink)
Focused on mapping out contemporary and future domains in philosophy of technology, this volume serves as an excellent, forward-looking resource in the field and in cognate areas of study. The 32 chapters, all of them appearing in print here for the first time, were written by both established scholars and fresh voices. They cover topics ranging from data discrimination and engineering design, to art and technology, space junk, and beyond. Spaces for the Future: A Companion to Philosophy of Technology is (...) structured in six parts: Ethical Space and Experience; Political Space and Agency; Virtual Space and Property; Personal Space and Design; Inner Space and Environment; and Outer Space and Imagination. The organization maps out current and emerging spaces of activity in the field and anticipates the big issues that we soon will face. (shrink)
The general topic I am addressing concerns the epistemological role of the use of metaphor in the philosophy of science. More specifically, I am concerned with the role metaphor plays in scientific and technological change. In the case in point, nanotechnology, I will explore the role of metaphor in changing our conception of the confirmation of the plausibility of theoretical notions. The basic idea is that metaphors either offer or suggest images that are meant to persuade one to change one’s (...) belief. Thus the confirmatory role is variable.. (shrink)
The essays in this volume grew out of a seminar examining the possibility of the emergence of a new consensus in the philosophy of science. While that issue is not resolved, we are presented with the most thorough examination of problems associated with the deductive-nomological model of explanation and its variants since the publication of Hempel's Aspects of Scientific Explanation and other Essays in the Philosophy of Science. The discussion begins with Wesley Salmon's monograph-length review of the past forty years (...) of work in the tradition initiated by Hempel and Oppenheim in their groundbreaking article "Studies in the Logic of Explanation". As one of the major players in the debates, Salmon's personal account is informative; it provides a useful introduction to the topic and covers the recent history of work on explanation in a manner that allows the uninitiated to follow the arguments and intricacies of the essays that follow. A main theme in Salmon's essay, as in much of his work, is the relation between the theory of explanation and the concept of causation. Given that the notion of causal laws plays a dominant role in DN explanations, this discussion is most welcome. Causation is also a clear concern of many of the other papers. The resolution of some of the tensions between Salmon's approach to causation, and the various roles of explanation in the philosophy of science, is, in fact, one of the main objectives of the extended concluding piece by Philip Kitcher. For Kitcher, explanations serve as unifying mechanisms for theories within different disciplines. Unification in turn also serves as a criterion for choosing between competing theories. The interplay between, on the one hand, Salmon's attention to the problems deriving from Hempel's initial formulation of DN and, on the other hand, Kitcher's concerns with Salmon's conceptualization of causation, produces one of the more fascinating dialectics of the volume. By attending to their dialogue, we see just how far the theory of explanation has come in the last forty years and yet how slow progress can be when fundamental problems are deeply entrenched. Causation continues to bedevil us. With one exception, the remaining contributors to this volume seem to confirm that judgment. Matti Sintonen, Paul Humphreys, David Papineau, Nancy Cartwright, James Woodward, and Merilee Salmon explore the many facets of causation as it applies to clarifying our explanatory objectives. Peter Railton is an exception. In his paper Railton reminds us that behind the epistemological and pragmatic concerns of most of the other contributors, Wesley Salmon included, there lies a set of metaphysical concerns. A thorough analysis of causation and, hence, a resolution to many of the DN model's problems requires a logically prior assessment of the relation between the epistemology of causation and the metaphysics of necessity. How one decides that issue or cluster of issues, Railton reminds us, will play heavily in the controversies between realists and nonrealists over the proper use of the principle of inference to the best explanation. (shrink)
SummaryHempel's Deductive‐Nomological model of explanation is compared to Sellars' brand of essentialism. The source of their differences is shown to lie in their views on the explanatory role of inductively based generalizations. An adequate explanation requires a reasoned account of why an empirical generalization fails. On Sellars' view this entails concentrating on the nature of the things whose behavior is in question. We thereby remove ourselves from the misleading positivist methodology in which one counterinstance renders a generalization uninteresting. It is (...) suggested instead that “disconfirmed” generalizations are of crucial positive methodological importance for purposes of theory development.RésuméLe modèle déductif‐nomologique de Hempel est comparéà l'essentialisme dans la version qu'en propose Sellars. L'auteur montre que leurs différences proviennent de ce qu'ils jugent différemment le rôle explicatif des généralisations inductives et les raisons de l'échec d'une généralisation empirique. D'après Sellars, il faut par conséquent se concentrer sur la nature des choses dont on observe le comportement; on évite ainsi les problèmes méthodologiques soulevés par les théories positivistes standard de la confirmation. L'auteur conclut en montrant que des généralisations infirmées ont une importance positive capitale pour le développement des théories. (shrink)