How can we understand the world as a whole instead of separate natural and human realms? Joseph T. Rouse proposes an approach to this classic problem based on radical new conceptions of both philosophical naturalism and scientific practice.
The Social Theory of Practices effectively criticized conceptions of social practices as rule-governed or regularity-exhibiting performances. Turners criticisms nevertheless overlook an alternative, "normative" conception of practices as constituted by the mutual accountability of their performances. Such a conception of practices also allows a more adequate understanding of normativity in terms of accountability to what is at issue and at stake in a practice. We can thereby understand linguistic practice and normative authority without having to posit stable meanings, rules, norms, or (...) presuppositions underlying the manifest diversity of social life. Key Words: normativity practices rules language. (shrink)
The interpretive plasticity of Kuhn’s philosophical work has been reinforced by readings informed by other philosophical, historiographic or sociological projects. This paper highlights several aspects of Kuhn’s work that have been neglected by such readings. First, Kuhn’s early contribution to several subsequent philosophical developments has been unduly neglected. Kuhn’s postscript discussion of “exemplars” should be recognized as one of the earliest versions of a conception of theories as “mediating models.” Kuhn’s account of experimental practice has also been obscured by readings (...) that assimilate his views to Quinean holism. Second, three distinctive Kuhnian themes have been insufficiently recognized. Kuhn’s challenge to received philosophical views has been domesticated by reading him as offering an alternative conception of scientific knowledge. Kuhn is better understood as rejecting knowledge-centric accounts altogether, in favor of understanding the practice of research. Kuhn’s conception of that activity, as conceptual “articulation,” has accordingly also not been given its due. Finally, Kuhn’s career-long insistence on the mutual accountability of philosophy of science and the philosophy of mind and language calls attention to the extent to which these fields have now drifted apart. (shrink)
Modernism in the philosophy of science demands a unified story about what makes an inquiry scientific (or a successful science). Fine's "natural ontological attitude" (NOA) is "postmodern" in joining trust in local scientific practice with suspicion toward any global interpretation of science to legitimate or undercut that trust. I consider four readings of this combination of trust and suspicion and their consequences for the autonomy and cultural credibility of the sciences. Three readings take respectively Fine's trusting attitude, his emphasis upon (...) local practice, and his antiessentialism about science as most fundamental to NOA. A fourth, more adequate reading, prompted by recent feminist interpretations of science, offers less restrictive readings of both Fine's trust and his suspicion toward approaching science with "ready-made philosophical engines" (Fine 1986b, 177). (shrink)
Temporal externalists expand Putnam’s and Burge’s semantic externalisms to argue that later uses of words transform the semantic significance of earlier uses. Conflicting intuitions about temporal externalism often turn on different conceptions of linguistic practice, which have mostly not been thematically explicated. I defend a version of temporal externalism that replaces the familiar regularist and normative-regulist conceptions of linguistic practice or use. This alternative identifies practices neither by regularities of use, nor by determinate norms governing their constituent performances, but by (...) the ways those performances bear upon and are accountable to one another. Performances are intelligible as part of a larger pattern of practice, but different performances extend that pattern in partially conflicting ways. The essentially anaphoric concepts of “issues” and “stakes” allow us to talk about how alternative extensions of past performance conflict or otherwise mis-align , and what differences it would make to extend the practice in one way rather than another . The result is to recognize both the interdependence of linguistic performances, and the open texture of concepts, by situating them within broader patterns of discursive interaction with changing circumstances. (shrink)
This survey of major developments in North American philosophy of science begins with the mid-1960s consolidation of the disciplinary synthesis of internalist history and philosophy of science (HPS) as a response to criticisms of logical empiricism. These developments are grouped for discussion under the following headings: historical metamethodologies, scientific realisms, philosophies of the special sciences, revivals of empiricism, cognitivist naturalisms, social epistemologies, feminist theories of science, studies of experiment and the disunity of science, and studies of science as practice and (...) culture. A unifying theme of the survey is the relation between historical metamethodologists and scientific realists, which dominated philosophical work in the late 1970s. I argue that many of the alternative cognitive naturalisms, social epistemologies, and feminist theories that have been proposed can be understood as analogues to the differences between metamethodological theories of scientific rationality and realist accounts of successful reference to real causal processes. Recent work on experiment, scientific practice, and the culture of science may, however, challenge the underlying conception of the field according to which realism and historical rationalism (or their descendants) are the important alternatives available, and thus may take philosophy of science in new directions. (shrink)
Husserl's (1970) discussion of "Galilean science" is often dismissed as naïvely instrumentalist and hostile to science. He has been explicitly criticized for misunderstanding idealization in science, for treating the lifeworld as a privileged conceptual framework, and for denying that science can in principle completely describe the world (because ordinary prescientific concepts are irreplaceable). I clarify Husserl's position concerning realism, and use this to show that the first two criticisms depend upon misinterpretations. The third criticism is well taken. Nevertheless, this is (...) consistent with Husserl's fundamental claim that the manifestations of things are important to discuss, but are inaccessible to empirical science. (shrink)
Attention to scientific practice offers a novel response to philosophical queries about how conceptual understanding is empirically accountable. The locus of the issue is thereby shifted, from perceptual experience to experimental and fieldwork interactions. More important, conceptual articulation is shown to be not merely ?spontaneous? and intralinguistic, but instead involves a establishing a systematic domain of experimental operations. The importance of experimental practice for conceptual understanding is especially clearly illustrated by cases in which entire domains of scientific investigation were first (...) made accessible to articulated conceptual understanding. We thereby see more clearly how experimental systems themselves, and not merely the theories and models they make possible, have an intentional directedness and ?representational? import. (shrink)
Dreyfus presents Todes's (2001) republished Body and World as an anticipatory response to McDowell (1994) which shows how preconceptual perception can ground conceptual thought. I argue that Dreyfus is mistaken on this point: Todes's claim that perceptual experience is preconceptual presupposes an untenable account of conceptual thought. I then show that Todes nevertheless makes two important contributions to McDowell's project. First, he develops an account of perception as bodily second nature, and as a practical-perceptual openness to the world, which constructively (...) develops McDowell's view. Second, and more important, this account highlights the practical and perceptual dimension of linguistic competence. The result is that perception is conceptual "all the way down" only because discursive conceptualization is perceptual and practical "all the way up". This conjunction of McDowell and Todes on the bodily dimensions of discursive practice also vindicates Davidson's and Brandom's criticisms of McDowell's version of empiricism. (shrink)
Arthur Fine has recently argued that standard realist and anti-realist interpretations of science should be replaced by "natural ontological attitude" (NOA). I ask whether Fine's own justification for NOA can meet the standards of argument that underlie his criticisms of realism and anti-realism. Fine vacillates between two different ways of advocating NOA. The more minimalist defense ("why not try NOA?") begs the question against both realists and antirealists. A stronger program, based on Fine's arguments for a "no-theory" of truth, has (...) promise, but the arguments must be developed in a stronger, more general form if they are to justify NOA. (shrink)
In contrast to earlier accounts of the epistemic significance of narrative, it is argued that narrative is important in natural scientific knowledge. To recognize this, we must understand narrative not as a literary form in which knowledge is written, but as the temporal organization of the understanding of practical activity. Scientific research is a social practice, whereby researchers structure the narrative context in which past work is interpreted and significant possibilities for further work are projected. This narrative field displays a (...) constant tension between a need for a coherent, shared understanding of the field and the incoherence threatened by divergent projects and interpretations. The account has three parts. First, a summary of the general account of the narrative intelligibility of action which underlies the proffered view of narrative in science. This account is then applied to understanding how scientific work acquires significance, and how the scientific literature is constructed and read. Finally, it is shown how this account should transform our understanding of the unity of science, and it is suggested how it can help undercut various realist and anti?realist interpretations of scientific knowledge, while also challenging the ironic stance which many recent sociologists adopt toward the global legitimation of science attempted by many philosophers. (shrink)
Philosophical naturalism is ambiguous between conjoining philosophy with science or with nature understood scientifically. Reconciliation of this ambiguity is necessary but rarely attempted. Feminist science studies often endorse the former naturalism but criticize the second. Karen Barad's agential realism, however, constructively reconciles both senses. Barad then challenges traditional metaphysical naturalisms as not adequately accountable to science. She also contributes distinctively to feminist reinterpretations of objectivity as agential responsibility, and of agency as embodied, worldly, and intra-active.
Philosophical discussions of mechanisms and mechanistic explanation have often been framed by contrast to laws and deductive-nomological explanation. A more adequate conception of lawfulness and nomological necessity, emphasizing the role of modal considerations in scientific reasoning, circumvents such contrasts and enhances understanding of mechanisms and their scientific significance. The first part of the paper sketches this conception of lawfulness, drawing upon Haugeland, Lange, and Rouse. This conception emphasizes the role of lawful stability under relevant counterfactual suppositions in scientific reasoning across (...) the sciences, in place of traditional conceptions of law that are primarily confined to the physical sciences. It also extends lawful stability beyond verbally or mathematically expressed law-statements, to encompass other ways of conjoining patterns in the world with scientific pattern recognition. The remainder of this paper shows how and why mechanisms constructively exemplify this conception of lawfulness in scientific practice: • Mechanisms are robust, counterfactually stable and inductively projectible patterns, even though they are not exceptionless “laws of nature”. • Mechanistic explanations often take non-verbal forms, which consequently resist philosophical inclinations to semantic ascent, but understanding lawfulness in terms of counterfactually stable pattern recognition accounts for these ways in which scientific understanding outruns the expressive capacities of natural languages; • Mechanisms are sometimes characterized as real patterns in the world, and sometimes as epistemic representations; understanding mechanisms as modal patterns shows why both conceptions are needed, as mutually supportive. • Mechanisms are typically open-ended, and only partially specified, in ways open to and directive toward further articulation and revision. Understanding mechanisms as modal patterns incorporates this aspect of mechanistic understanding within a broader conception of scientific understanding as embedded in research practice, rather than in bodies of knowledge extracted from it. • Mechanistic explanation has often been placed on the causal side of an opposition between causal and nomological explanation, but understanding mechanisms as modal patterns helps overcome that opposition, and contributes to a pluralist conception of causal relations and their characteristic forms of counterfactual invariance. • The recognition of mechanisms as modal patterns allows for a new way to think about the relations among distinct levels of a mechanistic hierarchy, and the broader scientific significance of mechanistic understanding. (shrink)
Steve Fuller's Social Epistemology offers a constructive program for integrating philosophy and sociology of science as normative knowledge policy, constrained by the linguistic, psychological, social, and political embodiment of knowledge. I endorse and elaborate upon Fuller's insistence that science studies should take seriously the embodiment of knowledge, but criticize his conception of knowledge policy on three grounds. Knowledge policy as Fuller conceives it seems committed to an untenable conception of a value?free or politically neutral social science. Knowledge policy studies are (...) also self?defeating, since they provide good reasons to ignore the recommendations of the knowledge?policy expert, and to prevent the successful development of a predictively adequate policy science. Finally, knowledge?policy studies cannot adequately respond to political conflict over knowledge production and dissemination. (shrink)
: Philosophical naturalism is ambiguous between conjoining philosophy with science or with nature understood scientifically. Reconciliation of this ambiguity is necessary but rarely attempted. Feminist science studies often endorse the former naturalism but criticize the second. Karen Barad's agential realism, however, constructively reconciles both senses. Barad then challenges traditional metaphysical naturalisms as not adequately accountable to science. She also contributes distinctively to feminist reinterpretations of objectivity as agential responsibility, and of agency as embodied, worldly, and intra-active.
The paper introduces cultural studies of science as an alternative to the "legitimation project" in philosophy and sociology of science. The legitimation project stems from belief that the epistemic standing and cultural authority of the sciences need general justification, and that such justification (or its impossibility) arises from the nature or characteristic aim of the sciences. The paper considers three central themes of cultural studies apart from its rejection of these commitments to the legitimation project: first, focus upon the sciences (...) as ongoing and dynamic practices; second, a deflationary and non-representationalist approach to understanding scientific knowledge; and third, foregrounding questions about the significance of scientific practices, statements, and the objects they engage, and how that significance changes within ongoing practices. (shrink)
This paper recapitulates my four primary lines of argument that what is wrong with scientific realism is not realist answers to questions to which various anti-realists give different answers, but instead assumptions shared by realists and anti-realists in framing the question. Each strategy incorporates its predecessors as a consequence. A first, minimalist challenge, taken over from Arthur Fine and Michael Williams, rejects the assumption that the sciences have a general aim or goal. A second consideration is that realists and antirealists (...) undertake a mistaken, substantive commitment to a separation between mind and world, which allows them to frame the issue in terms of how epistemic “access” to the world is mediated. A third strategy for dissolving the realism question challenges its underlying commitment to the independence of meaning and truth, a strategy pursued in different ways by Donald Davidson, Robert Brandom, John McDowell, John Haugeland, and myself. The fourth and most encompassing strategy shows that realists and antirealists are thereby committed to an objectionably antinaturalist conception of scientific understanding, in conflict with what the sciences themselves have to say about our own conceptual capacities. (shrink)
Dreyfus presents Todes’s republished Body and World as an anticipatory response to McDowell which shows how preconceptual perception can ground conceptual thought. I argue that Dreyfus is mistaken on this point: Todes’s claim that perceptual experience is preconceptual presupposes an untenable account of conceptual thought. I then show that Todes nevertheless makes two important contributions to McDowell’s project. First, he develops an account of perception as bodily second nature, and as a practical-perceptual openness to the world, which constructively develops McDowell’s (...) view. Second, and more important, this account highlights the practical and perceptual dimension of linguistic competence. The result is that perception is conceptual “all the way down” only because discursive conceptualization is perceptual and practical “all the way up”. This conjunction of McDowell and Todes on the bodily dimensions of discursive practice also vindicates Davidson’s and Brandom’s criticisms of McDowell’s version of empiricism. (shrink)
Roth (1987) effectively distinguishes Quinean indeterminacy of translation from the more general underdetermination of theories by showing how indeterminacy follows directly from holism and the role of a shared environment in language learning. However, Roth is mistaken in three further consequences he draws from his interpretation of indeterminacy. Contra Roth, natural science and social science are not differentiated as offering theories about the shared environment and theories about meanings respectively; the role of the environment in language learning does not justify (...) an empiricist sense of objective evidence; and his advocacy of methodological pluralism does not appropriately sustain the project of social scientific methodology in response to holism and indeterminacy. (shrink)
Johannes Climacus’s reflections on truth in Concluding Unscientific Postscript have not fared well in subsequent philosophical discussion. Those who write about truth almost never pay attention to Kierkegaard’s pseudonymous account. Even those writing about Kierkegaard often ignore it, or discuss it only peripherally. Among those who do consider his position, two mistaken interpretations are common. Some critics regard Kierkegaard’s claim that truth is subjectivity as a bad answer to traditional questions about truth. Alasdair MacIntyre, for example, interprets Climacus’s claim that (...) truth is subjectivity to be simply a relativist alternative to correspondence or coherence theories of the truth of sentences. MacIntyre then portrays Kierkegaard in the classic relativist dilemma. (shrink)