One of the arguments advanced in favor of scientific realism is the 'miracle argument'. It says that for the anti-realist the predictive success of science appears as an utter miracle. This argument indeed has some prima facie plausibility, provided that it is sharpened by construing "predictive success" as prediction of previously unknown laws and the occurrence of a consilience of inductions. Still, the history of science teaches us that it is possible to arrive at predictive success in this sense by (...) employing radically non-referring theoretical mechanisms. The 'miracle argument' is thus unsound. Rather, the capacity of a theory to generate predictive success can be traced back to its "classificativity correspondence.". (shrink)
Duhem—Quine underdetermination plays a constructive role in epistemology by pinpointing the impact of non-empirical virtues or cognitive values on theory choice. Underdetermination thus contributes to illuminating the nature of scientific rationality. Scientists prefer and accept one account among empirical equivalent alternatives. The non-empirical virtues operating in science are laid open in such theory choice decisions. The latter act as an epistemological test tube in making explicit commitments to how scientific knowledge should be like.
Funding policies for science are usually directed at supporting technological innovations. The im-pact and success of such policies depend crucially on how science and technology are connected to each other. I propose an “interactive view” of the relationship between basic science and technol-ogy development which comprises the following four claims: First, technological change derives from science but only in part. The local models used in accounting for technologically relevant phenomena contain theoretical and non-theoretical elements alike. Second, existing technologies and rules (...) of experience constitute another major repository of technological inventions. Third, technology dynamics is only weakly coupled to progress in basic science but it is closely related to science. There is a dependence of technological change on a more fundamental understanding, to be sure, but it is of an indirect and long-term character. Fourth, progress in basic research is some-times the effect of technological change. Technological change sometimes brings about increased theoretical understanding. (shrink)
The considerations set out in the paper are intended to suggest that in practical contexts predictive power does not play the outstanding roles sometimes accredited to it in an epistemic framework. Rather, predictive power is part of a network of other merits and achievements. Predictive power needs to be judged differently according to the specific conditions that apply. First, predictions need to be part of an explanatory framework if they are supposed to guide actions reliably. Second, in scientific expertise, the (...) demand for accurate predictions is replaced with the objective of specifying a robust corridor of estimates. Finally, it is highly uncertain to predict the success of research projects. The overall purpose of the paper is to enlarge the debate about predictions by addressing specifically the roles of predictions in application-oriented research. (shrink)
The article explores epistemic and social conditions of the trustworthiness of scientific expertise. I claim that there are three kinds of conditions for the trustworthiness of scientific expertise. The first condition is epistemic and means that scientific knowledge enjoys high credibility. The second condition concerns the significance of scientific knowledge. It means that scientific generalizations are relevant for elucidating the particular cases that constitute the challenges for expert judgment. The third condition concerns the social processes involved in producing science-based recommendations. (...) In this context trust is created by social robustness, expert legitimacy, and social participation. (shrink)
Semantic incommensurability is understood as non-translatability of concepts taken from different theories. My aim is to give a rational reconstruction of the notion of incommensurability underlying the writings of Feyerabend and the later Kuhn. I claim that incommensurability can be reconstructed on this basis as a coherent conception and that relevant instances can be identified. The translation failure between incommensurable concepts arises from the impossibility to jointly fulfil two conditions of adequacy that the context theory of meaning places on translations. (...) Potential conceptual analogues either fail to preserve the conditions of application or to reproduce the relevant inferential relations. Incommensurability is thus construed as the result of a particular type of conceptual relations which is produced by the incompatibility of the pertinent theories. These conceptual relations are sufficiently tight to make an empirical comparison of the relevant theoretical assertions possible. I try to make these claims plausible by elaborating examples from classical electrodynamics and special relativity.RésuméL’incommensurabilité sémantique est comprise comme la non-traduisibilité de concepts appartenant à différentes théories. L’objectif de l’article est de proposer une reconstruction rationnelle de la notion d’incommensurabilité qui sous-tend les écrits de Feyerabend et du dernier Kuhn. L’incommensurabilité, prétend-on, peut être reconstruite sur cette base en tant que notion cohérente, et des exemples pertinents peuvent en être donnés. L’impossibilité de la traduction entre concepts incommensurables provient de l’impossibilité de satisfaire conjointement deux conditions d’adéquation que la théorie contextuelle de la signification impose aux traductions. Les analogues conceptuels potentiels s’avèrent, soit ne pas préserver les conditions d’application, soit ne pas reproduire les relations inférentielles pertinentes. L’incommensurabilité est ainsi construite comme le résultat d’un type particulier de relations conceptuelles produit par l’incompatibilité des théories correspondantes. Ces relations conceptuelles sont suffisamment étroites pour rendre possible une comparaison empirique des assertions théoriques pertinentes. L’article s’efforce de rendre ces thèses plausibles en développant des exemples tirés de l’électrodynamique classique et de la relativité spéciale. (shrink)
Abstract It is argued that psychological explanations involve psychological generalizations that exhibit the same features as laws of physics. On the basis of the ?systematic theory of lawhood?, characteristic features of laws of nature are elaborated. Investigating some examples of explanations taken from cognitive psychology shows that these features can also be identified in psychological generalizations. Particular attention is devoted to the notion of ?ccteris?paribus laws?. It is argued that laws of psychology are indeed ceteris?paribus laws. However, this feature does (...) not distinguish them from the laws of physics, because such laws are found in physics as well. Moreover, the laws invoked in psychological explanations are genuine laws of psychology; they are not laws of other disciplines that are brought to bear on psychological problems. The conclusion is that if there are laws of physics then laws of psychology exist as well. (shrink)
In their self-understanding, expert committees solely draw on scientific knowledge to provide policy advice. However, we try to show, first, on the basis of material related to the German Radiation Protection Commission that much of their work consists in active model building. Second, expert advice is judged by criteria that diverge from standards used for judging epistemic research. In particular, the commitment to generality or universality is replaced by the criterion of specificity, and the value of precision gives way to (...) epistemic robustness. Third, non-epistemic considerations are included in the reasoning—albeit hesitantly. Manageability and social robustness, understood as compatibility with widespread value attitudes in society, affect the content of the recommendations. (shrink)
Kant's theory of matter is reconstructed and his views about and impact on chemistry are studied. His early "monadological" conception is analyzed and compared to other dynamical approaches of the period. His later attempt to regard matter as a continuum and to derive some of its properties from the interaction of forces is reconstructed. His conception of chemistry is examined and compared to the notion of some chemists who were inspired by Kant's work.
We reconstruct genetic determinism as a reductionist thesis to the effect that the molecular properties of cells can be accounted for to a great extent by their genetic outfit. The non-reductionist arguments offered at this molecular level often use the relationship between structure and function as their point of departure. By contrast, we develop a non-reductionist argument that is confined to the structural characteristics of biomolecules; no appeal to functions is made. We raise two kinds of objections against the reducibility (...) claim underlying genetic determinism. First, some conceptual distinctions at the protein level cannot be captured on a genetic basis. A one-to-many relationship between DNA sequences and proteins emerges from them. Second, the relationship between genes and proteins is characterized by explanatory loops or reciprocal explanatory dependence. The presence of proteins is explained by the transcription from corresponding DNA sequences, and the latter is in turn accounted for by the action of proteins. By contrast, a reductive account requires a unidirectional explanatory dependence. (shrink)
Transdisciplinarity includes the assumption that within new institutional settings, scientific research becomes more closely responsive to practical problems and user needs and is therefore often subject to considerable application pressure. This raises the question whether transdisciplinarity affects the epistemic standards and the fruitfulness of research. Case studies show how user-orientation and epistemic innovativeness can be combined. While the modeling involved in all cases under consideration was local and focused primarily on features of immediate practical relevance, it was informed by theoretical (...) insights from basic research. Conversely, industrial research turns out sometimes to produce theoretical understanding. These findings highlight an interactive relationship between science and technology (moderate emergentism), which is distinct from the traditional view of a one-sided dependence of technology on science (cascade model) and from the newly received independence account (emergentism). (shrink)
Convergent scientific realism entails that science will sooner or later arrive at the final theory of the fundamental constituents of matter. At that stage, all fundamental truths about nature will be discovered so that the search for basic principle seems bound to come to a halt. I explore options for a non-convergent scientific realism that allows for sustained progress in basic research. I defend the views that the coherence of non-convergent realism requires an emergence claim and that this claim can (...) be supported. I develop the example of the relation between equivalence classes among biological functions and their physiological realizations. Given strongly emergent laws in the sense elaborated in the paper, progress in basic research may survive the discovery of the laws governing the tinymost parts of matter. (shrink)
I attempt a reconstruction of Kant's version of the causal theory of time that makes it appear coherent. Two problems are at issue. The first concerns Kant's reference to reciprocal causal influence for characterizing simultaneity. This approach is criticized by pointing out that Kant's procedure involves simultaneous counterdirected processes-which seems to run into circularity. The problem can be defused by drawing on instantaneous processes such as the propagation of gravitation in Newtonian mechanics. Another charge of circularity against Kant's causal theory (...) was leveled by Schopenhauer. His objection was that Kant's approach is invalidated by the failure to deliver non-temporal criteria for distinguishing between causes and effects. I try to show that the modern causal account has made important progress toward a successful resolution of this difficulty. The fork asymmetry, as based on Reichenbach's principle of the common cause, provides a means for the distinction between cause and effect that is not based on temporal order (if some preconditions are realized). (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to discuss the relation between the observation basis and the theoretical principles of General Relativity. More specifically, this relation is analyzed with respect to constructive axiomatizations of the observation basis of space-time theories, on the one hand, and in attempts to complete them, on the other. The two approaches exclude one another so that a choice between them is necessary. I argue that the completeness approach is preferable for methodological reasons.
Abstract The paper addresses the question of how the unity of science can adequately be characterized. A mere classification of scientific fields and disciplines does not express the unity of science unless it is supplemented with a perspective that establishes a systematic coherence among the different branches of science. Four ideas of this kind are discussed. Namely, the unity of scientific language, of scientific laws, of scientific method and of science as a practical?operational enterprise. Whereas reference to the unity of (...) scientific language and of scientific laws does not provide a viable basis for the unity of science, the methodological and practical unity might. The unity of science can be characterized by the way in which methodological criteria enter into the assessment or evaluation of theories, and, moreover, by a transdisciplin?ary approach to problems. Accordingly, the unity of science is not expressed by theoretical uniformity but by the unity of scientific practice. (shrink)
The paper exposes the principal procedures of assessing methodological theories. The first one is based on a consensus about the aims of science, the second uses epistemological criteria, and the third checks the adequacy of methodological requirements against the history of science. This third procedure is singled out for a more detailed treatment. It is argued that rational reconstruction constitutes a separate level of historiography and concerns historical explanation. The subject of a rational reconstruction is the methodological explanation of all (...) basic value judgments, whereas all additional factors are not determined by methodological rules. It is further specified in which way rationally reconstructed history should correspond to the actual course of historical events, i. e. to which extent rational reconstruction is free to interpret history according to methodological categories. In the last paragraph the connection between scientific progress and the growth of knowledge is discussed. (shrink)
In a paper published in this Journal, Hans Radder argues that a detailed analysis of the degenerating phase of Bohr's programme reveals the basic incorrectness of Lakatos' own reconstruction of this period. Furthermore the corrected version shows the impossibility to account for the development in Lakatosian concepts. In this reply I try to point out that a slight modification of Lakatos' reconstruction is sufficient for reconciling the theory with the historical data. It is not Lakatos's theory itself that causes the (...) problems, but Radder's way of its application. (shrink)
Historische Epistemologie: Vielfalt und Wandel epistemischer Werte in der Wissenschaft. Die historische Epistemologie beinhaltet die Auffassung, dass das System des Wissens nicht durch die Beobachtungen festgelegt ist, sondern auch von epistemischen Anforderungen geprägt ist, die sich im historischen Forschungsprozess wandeln können. In der Folge ist das System des Wissens pfadabhängig in dem Sinn, dass seine Gestalt von epistemischen Entscheidungen beeinflusst ist, die zu bestimmten historischen Zeitpunkten getroffen wurden. Die vorliegende Arbeit zielt darauf ab, diesen Denkansatz auszuarbeiten, indem die doppelte Rolle (...) epistemischer Werte in den Vordergrund gerückt wird. Solche Werte stiften erstens Signifikanzbeziehungen und tragen dadurch dazu bei, der Forschung eine bestimmte Richtung zu geben. Sie sind zweitens auch von Belang im Prozess der Bestätigung, indem in ihrem Licht bestimmte Formen von Übereinstimmung mit den Tatsachen anderen Formen überlegen erscheinen und vorzuziehen sind. Einige epistemische Orientierungen und Umorientierungen können als Ergebnis einer Wechselwirkung mit der Natur verstanden werden, andere beruhen hingegen auf einer stärker fundamentalen Festlegung darauf, welche Art von Wissen als erstrebenswert gilt. Die epistemische Autorität der Wissenschaft wird in großem Umfang durch Regeln der wissenschaftlichen Gemeinschaft erzeugt, wie mit Wissensansprüchen umzugehen ist.Historical Epistemology: On the Diversity and Change of Epistemic Values in Science. Historical epistemology involves the claim that the system of scientific knowledge is not determined by the observations but is also subject to epistemic requirements that may change in the historical process of doing research. As a result, the system of knowledge is path-dependent in that its shape is contingent on epistemic choices made at certain historical points. I attempt to elaborate this approach by drawing attention to the double role of epistemic values. First, such values create relations of significance and thereby contribute to directing research into certain avenues. Second, they are also important in the process of confirmation in that they entail that certain forms of agreement with the facts are superior and preferable to other such forms. Some epistemic orientations and reorientations can be reconstructed as arising from an interaction with nature, but others are based on commitments to the kind of knowledge we appreciate. The epistemic authority of science is created in large measure by rules of the scientific community that express how to deal with knowledge claims. (shrink)
On Novel Facts.Martin Carrier - 1988 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 19 (2):205-231.details
Das Problem, unter welchen Bedingungen eine Hypothese oder Theorienmodifikation als methodologisch akzeptabel gilt, wird in der wissenschaftstheoretischen Tradition als die Frage des Ad-Hoc-Charakters von Hypothesen diskutiert. Das gleichartige Problem tritt aber auch in Lakatos' Methodologie wissenschaftlicher Forschungsprogramme auf, welche von methodologisch zulässigen Theorienänderungen die Vorhersage 'neuer Tatsachen' verlangt. Über diesen Begriff der neuen Tatsache und damit der Adäquatheitsbedingungen für wissenschaftliche Erklärungen hat sich eine weitgefächerte Debatte entsponnen. In diesem Papier wird der Versuch unternommen, die Forderung der unabhängigen Testbarkeit einer Hypothese, (...) welche im Rahmen der Diskussion des Ad-hoc-Charakters von Hypothesen eine wichtige Rolle spielt, auch für die Frage der Spezifizierung von 'neuen Tatsachen' fruchtbar zu machen. Ich argumentiere zugunsten der Bedingung, daß eine Hypothese als methodologisch akzeptabel gelten sollte, wenn sie zumindest zwei unabhängige Tatsachen erklärt. Ein derartiger Ansatz verlangt die Kennzeichnung dessen, was als 'eine Tatsache' zu gelten hat. Die Schwierigkeit einer derartigen Kennzeichnung ist ein notorisches Problem jedes Kriteriums, das auf unabhängige Testbarkeit zielt. Eine Klärung dieses Problems wird über das Konzept der empirischen Generalisierung versucht. Als 'eine Tatsache' im methodologischen Sinne gilt demnach ein gesetzmäßiger Zusammenhang zwischen zwei Meßgrößen. Dies erlaubt weiterführend eine Klärung des Problems, was methodologisch als 'ein Experiment' zu werten ist, d. h. was als Reproduktion desselben und was als andersartiges Experiment gelten soll. Mit Hilfe dieser Klärungen wird unter anderem der Ad-hoc-Charakter der Lorentzschen Kontraktionshypothese sowie das Problem der Gleich- oder Verschiedenartigkeit von Michelson-Morley- und Kennedy-Thorndike-Experiment untersucht. (shrink)