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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

Volume 57, Issue 2, 2020

Dmitry M. Koshlakov, Alexander I. Shvyrkov
Pages 124-141

Conception and Philosophy of Science

The authors try to show that even Wittgensteinian definition of concept is not always sufficient to analyze what really happens in science. As a result, in addition to “concept” we propose “conception” as a new promising tool for philosophy of science. We provide a brief historical analysis of this term and reveal two main interpretations of “conception” in philosophy and scientific disciplines. In accordance with the first view, conception appears as either a “twin” of the concept, or a pair entity to the concept. According to the second view, conception is a kind of “strange concept” that exists among “normal” concepts. Since conception is understood differently in sciences and philosophical systems, it is not possible to give a generalized definition of conception. That is, it is impossible to formulate this definition, so to speak, inductively. Moreover, even if it was possible, such a definition would not necessarily have to be automatically accepted by philosophy of science. That is why the introduction of a concept of conception was carried out through the analysis of a global process associated with the return of metaphysics to science. We define conception as a semantic construction denoting the unknown (and, possibly, fundamentally unknowable) and ensuring the possibility of working with this unknown (unknowable). By virtue of the way conception was introduced (conception is not a “generalization” of the interpretations available in specific sciences) many conceptions that are considered as conception in specific sciences turn out to not to be conceptions within this definition. Thus, the article interprets conception as a new possible tool of philosophy of science, which is aimed at understanding how specific sciences develop.

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