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1. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Miriam Solomon Consensus in Science
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Because the idea of consensus in contemporary philosophy of science is typically seen as the locus of progress, rationality, and, often, truth, Mill’s views on the undesirability of consensus have been largely dismissed. The historical data, however, shows that there are many examples of scientific progress without consensus, thus refuting the notion that consensus in science has any special epistemic status for rationality, scientific progress (success), or truth. What needs to be developed instead is an epistemology of dissent. I suggest that normative accounts of dissent be used as prototypes for theories of scientific rationality that can also be applied to episodes of consensus. Consensus in this case is to be treated as a special case of dissent, when the amount of dissent approaches zero. My main goal in this paper is to sketch how a normative account of dissent that aims to capture the idea of epistemic fairness can apply to situations of consensus.
2. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Vladislav A. Lektorsky Scientific Knowledge as Historical and Cultural Phenomenon
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I intend to demonstrate that the usual understanding of the ideals and norms of scientific cognition, which is often considered inseparable from the very notion of science itself, arose in concrete historical conditions; furthermore, these ideals and norms were connected with a certain type of research and a certain type of culture. As we are beginning to realize, such an understanding of ideals and norms does not work in other historical and cultural situations. I also try to show that some interpretations of the ideals and goals of science, as well as some ideas about the world (which were considered pre-scientific) gain new significance in the context of contemporary knowledge.
3. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Daniel Bonevac Defeasibly Sufficient Reason
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My aim is to show that supervenience claims follow from instances of a principle I call the principle of defeasibly sufficient reason. This principle construes the completeness of physics quite differently from strong or reductive physicalism and encodes both scientific and common sense patterns of explanation and justification. Rather than thoroughly defending the principle in the short space of this paper, I will sketch how one might defend it and a resulting fainthearted physicalism.
4. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Jesús Mosterín Self-Conciousness and Cosmic Consciousness
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This paper provides a brief survey of the human consciousness, beginning with the origins of humanism in the Renaissance period, moving on through the anthropocentrism of Enlightenment individualism, and its ensuing breakdown in our contemporary era. In agreement with the thesis that the task of the humanities is the enhancement of our selfconsciousness as human beings, I argue that only from the standpoint of a deeper and better-informed human self-consciousness, rooted in a cosmic consciousness, can we engage the unforeseen problems, opportunities and dilemmas that lie before us.
5. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Evandro Agazzi Science and the Humanities in the New Paideia
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The paideia of modernity is now in crisis. What is needed is a deeper, global understanding of the human being, and a broader determination of its ends and needs. Such a picture of the human being, its life, its real problems and expectations, can be called a paideia, in a sense that is the hard core of the different modulations this concept has received during its long history. It is suggested that this new paideia will be of service to humanity only insofar as it bridges the gap between the sciences and the humanities, between facts and values.
6. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Bruce Glymour, Marcelo Sabatés Micro-Level Indeterminism and Macro-Level Determinism
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Quantum mechanics, and the micro level indeterminacy it implies, is generally accepted by philosophers. So too naturalism on which macro states are held to supervene on micro states is now orthodox in the philosophy of mind and science. Still, in both fields it is frequently assumed that macro systems evolve deterministically. This assumption is commonly implicit and undefended, though at times it is made explicit and given minimal defense. In neither case is the incompatability of quantum indeterminacy, macro-micro dependence, and macro level determinism fully acknowledged. Even when incompatability is recognized, it is held that there is hope that quantum indeterminacy might be confined to micro levels. We argue that this is a vain hope. For certain standard quantum mechanical systems, micro indeterminism entails macro indeterminism unless macro states are effectively independent from micro states. This result obtains whether the relationship between supervenient and subvenient states is deterministic or indeterministic.
7. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
C. Ulises Moulines Ontology, Reduction, and the Unity of Science
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Ontology should be conceived as supervenient on scientific theories. They tell us what categories of things there really are. Thus, we would have a unique system of ontology if we would attain the unity of science through a reductionist program. For this, it should be clear how a relation of intertheoretical reduction (with ontological implications) is to be conceived. A formal proposal is laid out in this paper. This allows us also to define the notion of a fundamental theory. Now, it appears that, considering the state of really existing science, the idea of reductionism as based on this explication is highly implausible. However, even if this is the case, the question whether it is possible to build up a unique ontological system remains open. Its resolution depends on the notion of compatibility between fundamental theories, and its application to existing theories and their empirical bases.
8. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Manuel Liz New Physical Properties
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Discussions on physicalism, reduction, special sciences, the layered image of reality, multiple realizability, emergence, downward causation, and so forth, typically make the ontological presupposition that there is no room for new properties in the physical world. It is my purpose in this paper to explore the alternative hypothesis that there can be—and in fact are—new physical properties. In the first section, I will propose a brief analysis of the notions of property, physical property, and new physical property. In the second section, I will present four general situations in which it would be plausible to speak of the existence of new physical properties. All of that will be used to evaluate the content and scope of the hypothesis of physical novelty. Finally, in the third section, I will examine certain very interesting and promising consequences of such a physical novelty in relation to some of the topics above mentioned.
9. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Michael Ruse Reduction in Biology
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In this paper I shall discuss the concept of reduction—ontological, methodological, and epistemological or theoretical—in the biological sciences, with special emphasis on genetics and evolutionary biology. I suggest that perhaps, because the biological world has a form different from the non-biological world, it is appropriate to think of terms or metaphors different from those we would use when trying to understand the inorganic world. As such, the attempt to show that the biological is simply a deductive consequence of the physicochemical is doomed to failure. The philosophical complexity of reductionism on the one hand and its potential for advancing the study of biology on the other thus requires continuing the ongoing dialogue between philosophers and biologists.
10. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Lawrence Sklar What Is an Isolated System?
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In this paper, I want to focus attention on ways in which the role of idealization in science has been rather neglected by standard methodology, and suggest that this distinct role for idealization is the truly important role it plays in science. Further, I suggest that there are a number of important cases in theoretical science where the issue of idealization is not the issue of misrepresentation in some sense. Rather, the question is which of several alternative idealizations correctly represents the fundamental causalstructure of the world, and which idealizations, consequently, are appropriate for the scientific account of the world that is correct in its basic notion of what is an appropriate explanatory format for dealing with the physical phenomena in question. My argument is that the issues of idealization are important for methodology not primarily for the reasons that have so far exercised most philosophers of science who have worried about idealization in science.
11. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Elliott Sober Instrumentalism Revisited
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Instrumentalism is usually understood as a semantic thesis: scientific theories are neither true nor false, but are merely instruments for making predictions. Scientific realists are on firm ground when they reject this semantic claim. This paper focuses on epistemological rather than semantic instrumentalism. This form of instrumentalism claims that theories are to be judged by their ability to make accurate predictions, and that predictive accuracy is the only consideration that matters in the end. I consider how instrumentalism is related to a quite different proposal concerning how theories should be evaluated—scientific realism. Instrumentalism allows for the fact that a false model can get one closer to the truth than a true one.
12. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Ryszard Wójcicki What Do We Know?
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In what follows, I will address three fundamental questions regarding the theory of knowledge. They are as follows: What is knowledge? How can it be represented? How may one evaluate its quality? In this essay I outline a certain conceptual framework within which, I believe, these questions should be examined.
13. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Theo A. F. Kuipers Epistemological Positions in the Light of Truth Approximation
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I sketch the most important epistemological positions in the instrumentalism-realism debate, viz., instrumentalism, constructive empiricism, referential realism, and theory realism. I order them according to their answers to a number of successive leading questions, where every next question presupposes an affirmative answer to the foregoing one. I include the answer to questions concerning truth, as well as the most plausible answer to questions concerning truth approximation. Restricting my survey to the natural sciences and hence to the natural world, I indicate the implications of the results of the study of empirical progress and truth approximation for the way these epistemological positions are related. I conclude that there are good reasons for the instrumentalist to become a constructive empiricist; in order to give deeper explanations of success differences, the constructive empiricist is forced to become a referential realist; and, there are good reasons for the referential realist to become a theory realist of a non-essentialist nature, here called a constructive realist.
14. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Eduardo H. Flichman Newton’s Dynamics, Kuhn, and Incommensurability
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In this paper I will attempt to show how incommensurability between theories is usually manifested, framing this notion in a sense similar to the Kuhnian one in certain aspects, though very different in others. Further, I will show that it is possible, and desirable, to rid Kuhn’s thesis of the idea that in many important theories a certain part of the theoretical nucleus partially contains in a more or less vague sense, synthetic a priori or even analytic statements. Alternatively, I present a motive for the change of meaning in the basic terms of a theory wherein fundamental laws maintain their synthetic a posteriori character. Incommensurability in this case has to do with the change of lexicon for internal properties, independently of whether or not there is a change in the meaning of the primitive terms of the theory.
15. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Alberto Cordero Physics and the Underdetermination Thesis: Some Lessons from Quantum Theory
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Although exceptionally successful in the laboratory, the standard version of quantum theory is marred as a realist-objectivist proposition because of its internal conceptual difficulties and its tension with important parts of physics—most conspicuously, relativity theory. So, to meet these challenges, in recent years at least three distinct major objectivist programs have been advanced to further quantum theory into a proper general account of material systems. Unfortunately, the resulting proposals turn out to be, for all practical purposes, empirically equivalent both among themselves and against the standard version. This paper analyzes the basic issues involved in the case. It is argued that (a) the global anti-realist conclusion derived from it are fallacious, and (b) the encountered underdetermination shows how contingent upon the state of empirical knowledge talk about the “limits of science” actually is.
16. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Tian Yu Cao Representation or Construction?: An Interpretation of Quantum-Ffield Theory
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In this essay, I argue that the basic entities in the causally organized hierarchy of entities that quantum field theory describes are not particles but fields. Then I move to discuss, from the perspective of a structural realist, in what sense and to what degree this theoretical construction of fields can be taken as an objective representation of physical reality.
17. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Gary S. Rosenkrantz What Is Life?
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I attempt to define the concept of ‘living organism’. Intuitively, a living organism is a substantial entity with a capacity for certain relevant activities. But biology has discovered that living organisms have a particular compositional or microstructural nature. This nature includes carbon-based macromolecules and water molecules. I argue that such living organisms belong to a natural kind of compound physical object, viz., carbon-based living organism. My definition of a living organism encompasses both the intuitively relevant activities and the empirically discovered compositional nature. The definition is designed to deal with a variety of problem cases, e.g., viruses, proteinoid microspheres, sterile organisms, suspended animation cases, and living parts of organisms.
18. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
David Gruender On Explanation: Aristotelian and Hempelean
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Given the great historical distance between scientific explanation as Aristotle and Hempel saw it, some important similarities and differences between he two approaches are examined and appraised, especially the inclination to take deduction itself as the very model of scientific knowledge: an inclination we have good reason to reject.
19. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
David Grünberg Bootstrapping and the Problem of Testing Quantitative Theoretical Hypotheses
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Two alternative solutions to the problem of computing the values of theoretical quantities and of testing theoretical hypotheses are Sneed’s structuralist eliminationism and Glymour’s bootstrapping. Sneed attempts to solve the problem by eliminating theoretical quantities by means of the so-called Ramsey-Sneed sentence that represents the global empirical claim of the given theory. Glymour proposes to solve the problem by deducing the values of the theoretical quantities from the hypothesis to be tested. In those cases where the theoretical quantities are not strongly Ramsey-eliminable, eliminationism does not succeed in computing the values of theoretical quantities, and it is compelled to use bootstrapping in this task. On the other hand, we see that a general notion of bootstrapping provides a formally correct procedure for computing theoretical quantities, and thus contributes to the solution to the problem of testing theoretical hypotheses involving these quantities.
20. The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy: Volume > 10
Marcelo Dascal Controversies and Epistemology
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I present and defend the thesis that the impasse at which the philosophy and history of science find themselves in the last couple of decades is due, to a large extent, either to the complete neglect or to a misguided treatment of the role of scientific controversies in the evolution of science. In order to do so, I first provide a preliminary clarification of the impasse to which I refer. I go on to explain why I see the study of controversies as a fundamental step in solving it. I locate controversies within the set of empirical phenomena of the class of ‘polemical discourses’, and I single out the properties of controversies which explain their potential role for solving the impasse. I then show how the extant epistemological options are unable to handle controversies in a satisfactory form, which explains their inability to solve the impasse. I conclude by formulating an essential desideratum for the solution of the impasse.