This book introduces a new approach to the issue of radical scientific revolutions, or "paradigm-shifts," given prominence in the work of Thomas Kuhn. The book articulates a dynamical and historicized version of the conception of scientific a priori principles first developed by the philosopher Immanuel Kant. This approach defends the Enlightenment ideal of scientific objectivity and universality while simultaneously doing justice to the revolutionary changes within the sciences that have since undermined Kant's original defense of this ideal. Through a modified (...) Kantian approach to epistemology and philosophy of science, this book opposes both Quinean naturalistic holism and the post-Kuhnian conceptual relativism that has dominated recent literature in science studies. Focussing on the development of "scientific philosophy" from Kant to Rudolf Carnap, along with the parallel developments taking place in the sciences during the same period, the author articulates a new dynamical conception of relativized a priori principles. This idea applied within the physical sciences aims to show that rational intersubjective consensus is intricately preserved across radical scientific revolutions or "paradigm-shifts and how this is achieved. (shrink)
I use recent work on Kant and diagrammatic reasoning to develop a reconsideration of central aspects of Kant’s philosophy of geometry and its relation to spatial intuition. In particular, I reconsider in this light the relations between geometrical concepts and their schemata, and the relationship between pure and empirical intuition. I argue that diagrammatic interpretations of Kant’s theory of geometrical intuition can, at best, capture only part of what Kant’s conception involves and that, for example, they cannot explain why Kant (...) takes geometrical constructions in the style of Euclid to provide us with an a priori framework for physical space. I attempt, along the way, to shed new light on the relationship between Kant’s theory of space and the debate between Newton and Leibniz to which he was reacting, and also on the role of geometry and spatial intuition in the transcendental deduction of the categories. (shrink)
Kant's original version of transcendental philosophy took both Euclidean geometry and the Newtonian laws of motion to be synthetic a priori constitutive principles—which, from Kant's point of view, function as necessary presuppositions for applying our fundamental concepts of space, time, matter, and motion to our sensible experience of the natural world. Although Kant had very good reasons to view the principles in question as having such a constitutively a priori role, we now know, in the wake of Einstein's work, that (...) they are not in fact a priori in the stronger sense of being fixed necessary conditions for all human experience in general, eternally valid once and for all. And it is for precisely this reason that Kant's original version of transcendental philosophy must now be either rejected entirely or radically reconceived. Most philosophy of science since Einstein has taken the former route: the dominant view in logical empiricism, for example, was that the Kantian synthetic a priori had to be rejected once and for all in the light of the general theory of relativity. (shrink)
Both realists and instrumentalists have found it difficult to understand (much less accept) Carnap's developed view on theoretical terms, which attempts to stake out a neutral position between realism and instrumentalism. I argue that Carnap's mature conception of a scientific theory as the conjunction of its Ramsey sentence and Carnap sentence can indeed achieve this neutral position. To see this, however, we need to see why the Newman problem raised in the context of recent work on structural realism is no (...) problem for Carnap's conception; and we also need to locate Carnap's work on theoretical terms within his wider program of Wissenschaftslogik or the logic of science. (shrink)
This paper considers the evolution of the problem of scientific rationality from Kant through Carnap to Kuhn. I argue for a relativized and historicized version of the original Kantian conception of scientific a priori principles and examine the way in which these principles change and develop across revolutionary paradigm shifts. The distinctively philosophical enterprise of reflecting upon and contextualizing such principles is then seen to play a key role in making possible rational intersubjective communication between otherwise incommensurable paradigms.
What I call the dynamics of reason is a post-Kuhnian approach to the history and philosophy of science articulating a relativized and historicized version of the Kantian conception of the rationality and objectivity of the modern physical sciences. I here discuss two extensions of this approach. I argue that, although the relativized standards of rationality in question change over time, the particular way in which they do this still preserves the trans-historical rationality of the entire process. I also make a (...) beginning in extending my historical narrative from purely intellectual history (both philosophical and scientific) to the wider cultural context. (shrink)
Rudolf Carnap is increasingly regarded as one of the most important philosophers of the twentieth century. He was one of the leading figures of the logical empiricist movement associated with the Vienna Circle and a central figure in the analytic tradition more generally. He made major contributions to philosophy of science and philosophy of logic, and, perhaps most importantly, to our understanding of the nature of philosophy as a discipline. In this volume a team of contributors explores the major themes (...) of his philosophy and discusses his relationship with the Vienna Circle and with philosophers such as Frege, Husserl, Russell, and Quine. New readers will find this the most convenient and accessible guide to Carnap currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Carnap. (shrink)
Addressing a wide range of topics, from Newton to Post-Kuhnian philosophy of science, these essays critically examine themes that have been central to the influential work of philosopher Michael Friedman.
Carl Hempel introduced what he called "Craig's theorem" into the philosophy of science in a famous discussion of the "problem of theoretical terms." Beginning with Hempel's use of 'Craig's theorem," I shall bring out some of the key differences between Hempel's treatment of the "problem of theoretical terms" and Carnap's in order to illuminate the peculiar function of Wissenschaftslogik in Carnap's mature philosophy. Carnap's treatment, in particular, is fundamentally antimetaphysical—he aims to use the tools of mathematical logic to dissolve rather (...) solve traditional philosophical problems—and it is precisely this point that is missed by his logically-minded contemporaries such as Hempel and Quine. (shrink)
The logical positivists adopted Poincare's doctrine of the conventionality of geometry and made it a key part of their philosophical interpretation of relativity theory. I argue, however, that the positivists deeply misunderstood Poincare's doctrine. For Poincare's own conception was based on the group-theoretical picture of geometry expressed in the Helmholtz-Lie solution of the space problem, and also on a hierarchical picture of the sciences according to which geometry must be presupposed be any properly physical theory. But both of this pictures (...) are entirely incompatible with the radically new conception of space and geometry articulated in the general theory of relativity. The logical positivists's attempt to combine Poincare's conventionalism with Einstein's new theory was therefore, in the end, simply incoherent. Underlying this problem, moreover, was a fundamental philosophical difference between Poincare's and the positivists concerning the status of synthetic a priori truths. (shrink)
Skeptical problems arising for Kant's version of transcendental idealism have been raised from Kant's own time to the present day. By focussing on how such problems originally arose in the wake of Kant's work, and on the first formulations of absolute idealism by Schelling, I argue that the skeptical problems in question ultimately depend on fundamental features of Kant's philosophy of natural science. As a result, Naturphilosophie and the organic conception of nature cannot easily be separated from the deep and (...) insightful response to these problems offered by absolute idealism. (shrink)
This essay considers the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science from Thomas Kuhn to the present. This relationship, of course, has often been troubled, but there is now new hope for an ongoing productive interaction—due to an increasing awareness, among other things, of the mutual entanglement between the development of modern science and the development of modern philosophy on the part of both professional philosophers and professional historians of science. This idea is illustrated with several examples, including (...) the entanglement of Einstein's theory of relativity with logical empiricism and its precursors and the entanglement of the analytic tradition in philosophy first with mathematical logic and then with the cognitive sciences. Against this background, finally, the essay considers the emergence of contemporary social and cultural history of science from the Kantian and neo‐Kantian philosophical traditions. (shrink)
This paper explores the relationship between Kant's views on the metaphysical foundations of Newtonian mathematical physics and his more general transcendental philosophy articulated in the Critique of Pure Reason. I argue that the relationship between the two positions is very close indeed and, in particular, that taking this relationship seriously can shed new light on the structure of the transcendental deduction of the categories as expounded in the second edition of the Critique.