Since the late 1950s one of the most important and influential views of post-positivist philosophy of science has been the theory-ladenness of observation. It comes in at least two forms: either as a psychological law pertaining to human perception (whether scientific or not) or as conceptual insight concerning the nature and functioning of scientific language and its meaning. According to its psychological form, perceptions of scientists, as perceptions of humans generally, are guided by prior beliefs and expectations, and perception has (...) a peculiar holist character. In its conceptual form it maintains that scientists’ observations rest on the theories they accept and that the meaning of the observational terms involved depends upon the theoretical context in which they occur. Frequently, these two versions are combined with each other and give rise to a constructivist view of scientific knowledge (I shall use the term “constructivism” roughly in the same way as Golinski [1998, chap. 1]). According to this outlook, our experience is categorized and preconditioned by prior belief since the process of gaining knowledge through science always involves the use of concepts from some theory or other. This view can easily be strengthened to serve as the cornerstone of a constructivist and anti-empiricist account of science: The categories in terms of which we carve up our experience are not read off from the external world but follow from prior theoretical commitments. (shrink)
In the foundations of Fechner's psychophysics, the concept of “functional relation” plays a highly relevant role in three different respects: (1) in respect to the principles of measurement, (2) in respect to the mind-body problem, and (3) in respect to the concept of a law of nature. In all three cases, it is important to explain the difference between a functional dependency of a variable upon another and a causal relationship between two (or more) variables. In all three respects, Ernst (...) Mach developed Fechner's ideas further and tried to extend the lessons he had learned from using the concept of a functional relation in psychophysics to the whole of science. For all three cases, I explain why they are still relevant for psychophysics and philosophy today. (shrink)
The following article treats the 'applicational turn' of modern fluid dynamics as it set in at the beginning of the 20th century with Ludwig Prandtl's concept of the boundary layer. It seeks to show that there is much more to applying a theory in a highly mathematical field like fluid dynamics than deriving a special case from a general explanatory theory under particular antecedent conditions. In Prandtl's case, the decisive move was to introduce a model that provided a physical/causal conception (...) of viscous flow at high Reynolds numbers. It facilitated an approximate solution to the Navier-Stokes equations, which in turn gave rise to many special applications. After a detailed account of Prandtl's achievement, the article discusses the role of the physical model and its experimental and mathematical significance. It is shown that the mathematical simplification provided by the physical model greatly expanded the explanatory capacity of the theory which the Navier-Stokes equations alone could not provide. (shrink)
This article deals with Moritz Schlick's critical realism and its sources that dominated his philosophy until about 1925. It is shown that his celebrated analysis of Einstein's relativity theory is the result of an earlier philosophical discussion about space perception and its role for the theory of space. In particular, Schlick's "method of coincidences" did not owe anything to "entirely new principles" based on the work of Einstein, Poincaré or Hilbert, as claimed by Michael Friedman, but was already in place (...) before these principles were developed. The first part of the article is devoted to Alois Riehl's critical realism—a neo-Kantian variant which rejects the dominant interpretation of the thing-in-itself as a mere limiting concept and takes empirical theories of space perception into consideration. The second part deals with the central role of "Psychological Parallelism" for Riehl and its integration with Kant's epistemology. In the third part it is shown that Schlick's theory of knowledge is based on Riehl's intricate reworking of Kantian epistemology, physiological psychology, theory of sense perception and philosophy of mathematics. The conclusion stresses the position of the unity of consciousness in Riehl's philosophy which Schlick admittedly cannot cope with. (shrink)
The physiologist and neo-Kantian philosopher Johannes von Kries (1853-1928) wrote one of the most philosophically important works on the foundation of probability after P.S. Laplace and before the First World War, his Principien der Wohrscheinlich-keitsrechnung (1886, repr. 1927). In this book, von Kries developed a highly original interpretation of probability, which maintains it to be both logical and objectively physical. After presenting his approach I shall pursue the influence it had on Ludwig Wittgenstein and Friedrich Waismann. It seems that von (...) Kries's approach had more potential than recognized in his time and that putting Waismann's and Wittgenstein's early work in a von Kries perspective is able to shed light on the notion of an elementary proposition. (shrink)
In the 19th century, "Psychophysical Parallelism" was the most popular solution of the mind-body problem among physiologists, psychologists and philosophers. (This is not to be mixed up with Leibnizian and other cases of "Cartesian" parallelism.) The fate of this non-Cartesian view, as founded by Gustav Theodor Fechner, is reviewed. It is shown that Feigl's "identity theory" eventually goes back to Alois Riehl who promoted a hybrid version of psychophysical parallelism and Kantian mind-body theory which was taken up by Feigl's teacher (...) Moritz Schlick. (shrink)
How was the hypothetical character of theories of experience thought about throughout the history of science? The essays cover periods from the middle ages to the 19th and 20th centuries. It is fascinating to see how natural scientists and philosophers were increasingly forced to realize that a natural science without hypotheses is not possible.
The term “historical epistemology” can be read in two different ways: (1) as referring to a program of ‘historicizing’ epistemology, in the sense of a critique of traditional epistemology’s tendency to gloss over historical context, or (2) as a manifesto of ‘epistemologizing’ history, i.e. as a critique of radical historicist and relativist approaches. In this paper I will defend a position in this second sense. I show that one can account for the historical development and diversity of science without disavowing (...) the relevance of a (normatively understood) epistemology and without denying the existence of human cognitive universals across historical and cultural differences. In support of my thesis, I draw on cognitive scientific research on causal and symbolic cognition, arguing that causal understanding constitutes a basic part of science, which, in the course of its development, becomes more and more superimposed by a culturally and historically variable symbolic superstructure. (shrink)
In philosophischen wie nichtphilosophischen Darstellungen wird heutzutage der Ursprung des Leib-Seele-Problems überwiegend mit dem kartesischen Dualismus in Verbindung gebracht. Es wird die Meinung vertreten, daß erst durch Descartes’ Aufteilung des Menschen (und damit der Welt) in die beiden einander ausschließenden Substanzen der res extensa und der res cogitans das philosophische Grundübel in die Leib-Seele-Philosophie gekommen sei.1 Folgerichtig ist man fest davon überzeugt, daß sich das Problem nur lösen läßt, wenn man es an der Wurzel packt und konsequent Descartes’ ontologischen Dualismus (...) verwirft. Ein Herumdoktern an den Symptomen nach Art des Okkasionalismus oder der Leibnizschen Lehre von der prästabilierten Harmonie wird demgegenüber als metaphysisch suspekt und aussichtslos angesehen. Zwar ist inzwischen die Hoffnung, durch bloßen Anti-Cartesianismus ans Ziel zu kommen, etwas geschwunden, nachdem man feststellen mußte, daß die anfänglich so vielversprechende Kritik des Behaviourismus an Descartes nicht zum Ziel führte. Und auch mit der nächsten, von der Identitätstheorie hervorgerufenen großen Welle der Descartes-Kritik sind die Lösungen bis heute nicht so befriedigend ausgefallen, wie man sie gerne hätte. Die Überzeugung ist aber weiterhin stark, daß eine Lösung für das Leib-Seele-Problem zuallererst die Verwerfung des kartesischen Dualismus erfordert. (shrink)
Four different interpretations of measurement are distinguished that are compatible with the formal frame of the representational theory of measurement: (1) the classical interpretation, the additive, (3) the operationalis, (4) the correlative one.
In this paper, I would like to show that considering technological models as they arise in engineering disciplines can greatly enrich the philosophical perspective on models. In fluid mechanics, (at least) three types of models are distinguished: mathematical, computer and physical models. Very often, the choice of a particular mathematical, computer or physical model highly affects the type of solutions and the computational time needed for it. Technological models not only aim at a correct description of the physical phenomena, but (...) also for an efficient and accurate simulation. The problem arises how heterogeneous models of an engineering problem can be brought together and be compared to each other as regards their function and technological efficiency. There are two developments in the history of fluid mechanics that have greatly influenced the use of models in the field: The introduction of the concept of the boundary layer by Ludwig Prandtl in 1904 made it possible to apply ideal analytical solutions, which at the time were almost entirely based on Euler’s equations for inviscid fluids, to interesting real cases and to approximate the theoretical Navier-Stokes equations to practical engineering problems, i.e. to cases at high Reynolds numbers. This made it possible to link the empirical tradition of hydraulics with the theoretical tradition of analytical mechanics and therefore lead to a kind of equilibrium in the use of mathematical and physical models. In the 1970s the introduction of the computer has greatly pushed back the importance of both physical and mathematical (analytic) models alike without making them superfluous. There remain, however, three different ways to conceive of physical models in fluid mechanics, and thus of the experimental ingredient, depending on whether they are devised from an analytical, computational or measurement theoretical point of view. Yet even inside the tradition of computer simulation, different practices have formed according to the programming methods used. The choice of method either depends on considerations of efficiency in terms of costs and time, or on historically contingent factors, like availability of instruments and programming packages or the arbitrary choice of a forerunner. Seen from a technological point of view the factors that make models “autonomous agents” and thus (relatively) independent from theory depend on efficiency constraints. Models are means to solve problems in a certain practical perspective by the most efficient means available. To develop a model is a “fast and frugal way” to get to grips with a certain region of reality, whereas the theoretical approach stresses the importance of universal features. (shrink)
Naturphilosophie refers to the philosophy of nature prevalent especially in German phi- losophy, science and literary movements from around 1790 to about 1830. It pleaded for an organic and dynamic worldview as an alternative to the atomist and mechanist outlook of modern science. Against the Cartesian dualism of matter and mind which had given way to the mechanist materialism of the French Encyclopedists, Spinoza’s dual aspect theory of mind and matter as two modes of a single substance was favoured. The (...) sources of this heterogene- ous movement lie in the philosophy of German idealism as well as in late classicism and Ro- manticism. The leading figure, Schelling, assimilated and stimulated the major trends and ideas through his work. (shrink)
Das Buch besteht aus drei Teilen. Der erste Teil befasst sich mit der allgemeinen Struktur empirischer Theorie. Der zweite Teil beschäftigt sich mit den Problemen der Anwendung von Theorien und im dritten Teil werden Beispiele vorgestellt.
Ludwig Büchner wrote one of the most popular and polemical books of the strong materialist movement in the later nineteenth-century Germany, his Kraft und Stoff (Force and Matter) (1855). He tried to develop a comprehensive worldview, which was based solely on the findings of empirical science and did not take refuge in religion or any other transcendent categories in explaining nature and its development, including human beings. When Büchner tried to expose the backwardness of traditional philosophical and religious views in (...) scientific matters, his arguments had some force, but the positive part of his programme was not free of superficiality and naivety. Büchner’s writings helped to strengthen progressive and rational traditions inside and outside philosophy, but they can also serve as the prime example of the uncritical nineteenth- century belief in science’s capacity to redeem humankind from all evil. (shrink)
Wenn hier Fechners Philosophie als „wissenschaftlich-philosophische Weltauffassung“ bezeichnet wird, dann soll damit gesagt werden, dass Fechner mit seiner Philosophie einen wissenschaftlichen Anspruch verfolgt hat und dass sie tatsächlich auf einem weltanschauungsfreien Fundament ruht. Ich möchte sogar so weit gehen zu behaupten, dass Fechner damit zur Tradition der „wissenschaftlichen Philosophie“ des 19. Jahrhunderts zu rechnen ist, deren folgenreichstes späteres Produkt im 20. Jahrhundert der logische Empirismus darstellt. Der „Wiener Kreis“ als die bekannteste Schule dieser Tradition bediente sich (in seinem Manifest von (...) 1929) des Ausdrucks „Wissenschaftliche Weltauffassung“, um sich von allen spekulativen Weltanschauungen abzugrenzen. (shrink)
Um die Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts tritt die Sinnesphysiologie in eine neue Phase ein. Sie löst sich allmählich von der akademischen Philosophie und bildet sich zu einer professionellen experimentellen Disziplin aus. Trotzdem ist die Philosophie aber nicht völlig aus dem Spiel; es kommt vielmehr zu einem Wettstreit physiologischer Schulen innerhalb der Physiologie selbst um ihre impliziten philosophischen Anschauungen. Außerdem liefern sich die längst etablierte Disziplinen der Physik, Physiologie und Psychologie so etwas wie einen Machtkampf um das Anrecht, die Sinnesphysiologie als (...) Teil ihres Gebiets ansehen zu können. Die einzelnen Wahrnehmungstheorien unterscheiden sich also sowohl durch die Rolle, die sie den einzelnen Wissenschaften bei der Erklärung der Wahrnehmung zuweisen, als auch durch die ihnen zugrundeliegenden philosophischen Anschauungen. (Vgl. Heidelberger 1993, 1997). (shrink)
Alan Richardson, one of the editors of the present volume, dryly remarks in a footnote to the introduction: “Logical empiricism remains alive in philosophical memory chiefly by the significance of its death.” I think that this pertinent paradox can be enlarged to generally characterise the relation of present-day philosophy of science to logical empiricism : the more philosophy of science has struggled in the past to distance itself from central tenets of the movement of LE, the more it had to (...) realise how close and how indebted it remains to LE and how much “post-positivism” itself willy-nilly keeps its spirit alive. Thus, there is the growing feeling that the identity of today’s philosophy of science is much more closely tied to LE, many manifestations to the contrary notwithstanding. The renewed interest in LE that has resulted from this insight must necessarily have lead to repercussions also on the appraisal of LE as a philosophical position. The once almost unanimous and rash condemnation of LE in the sixties and seventies is today followed by a prudent and broad-minded second look that tries to do fuller justice to the historical background and development. One can understand that for some of those who take the foregoing considerations seriously the news of LE’s death seems to be a little premature. (shrink)
Der Weltbildbegriff, wie er sich im 19. Jahrhundert herausgebildet hat, bezeichnet die zusammenfassende Darstellung der Welt gemäß den Ergebnissen der Naturwissenschaften. Mehr oder weniger untergründig ist damit aber noch mehr mitgemeint: eine aus der Wissenschaft fließende Weltdeutung, die sich an die Stelle der überkommenen Sinnorientierungen und deren Instanzen setzt. Die wissenschaftliche Forschung des späten 19. Jahrhunderts sah sich diesem Ziel der Weltdeutung aus Wissenschaft zum Greifen nahe. Die Generation jener Zeit lebte im Bewußtsein, wie es der Berliner Philosophieprofessor Friedrich Paulsen (...) 1902 ausdrückte, daß die exakte Forschung „uns den Boden unter den Füssen sichern und uns ein treues Weltbild geben“ werde. Man erhoffte sich „eine allseitige und vollständig gesicherte Weltanschauung und eine in notwendigen Gedanken befestigte Lebensweisheit.“. (shrink)