INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE A Text by ...

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INTRODUCTION

TO THE
PHILOSOPHY

OF
SCIENCE

A Text by Members of the Department of the
History and Philosophy of Science of the University
of Pittsburgh

Merrilee H. Salmon. ' John

Barman • Cl
ark Glymour James

G.
Lennox


Peter Machamer

• J.
E. McGuire John D. Norton

• Wesley C. Salmon
• Kenneth
F. Schaffner

PRENTICE HALL

Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632

CONTENTS

PREFACE





INTRODUCTION



1

PART ONE: GENERAL TOPICS IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

1
SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATI
ON
(W
. Salmon)

7

2

THE CONFIRMATION
OF
SCIENTIFIC HYPOTHESE
S
(J.E
ARMAN
,

W.
Salmon)

42

3

REALISM
AND THE
NATURE
OF
THEORIES

(Cl
ark Glymour)

104





4

SCIENTIFIC CHANGE
:

PERSPECTIVES
AND
PROPOSALS
(
• J.
E. McGuire)

132


PART TWO: PHILOSOPHY OF THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES

5

PHILOSOPHY
OF
SPACE
AND
TIME
-

(
John D. Norton)

179

6.
DETERMINISM
IN THE
PHYSICAL SCIENCES


(J.E
ARMAN
)

232


PART THREE: PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOGY AND MEDICINE

7
PHILOSOPHY OF BIOLOG
Y
(
James

G.
Lennox)

269

8
Philosophy OF medicine (Kenneth
F. Schaffner
) 310

PART FOUR: PHILOSOPHY OF
BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE
S

9

PHILOSOPHY
OF
PSYCHOLOGY
(
Peter Machamer)

346

10

android epistemology: computation, artificial intelligence, AND THE
PHILOSOPHY
OF
SCIENCE
(
Cl
ark Glymour)

364

11

PHILOSOPHY
OF THE
SOCIAL SCIENCES


(
Merrilee H. Salmon)
404

BIBLIOGRAPHY



426


INDEX



447


INTRODUCTION

Scientific knowledge stands as the supreme intellectual achievement of our so
ciety. Governments, private
foundations, and businesses support scientific research although it is costly and does not always yield immediate
practical benefits. Courses in science are a required part of curricula from grade school through university, and
young people are encouraged to undergo the long apprenticeship of study and work that will transform them into
scientists. Scientific accomplishments are honored at every level, from awards at local science fairs to Nobel
prizes. Major museums in cities al
l over the western world document and display scientific achievements and
inventions. Yet despite the impressive scope of scientific progress and all the attention paid to science and
scientists, many questions remain about the nature of science and how it

works.

Such questions are not usually raised in the study of

specific sciences. Physics is concerned, for example, with
providing explanations of why chain reactions occur in certain kinds of materials but not in others; it is not the
task of physics to outline an answer to the more general question of what feature
s an explanation must have if it
is to be scientifically acceptable. Biologists study populations of fruit flies to draw conclusions about how
heredity works. They do not, as biologists, address in a general way the issue of the nature of the relationship
between observation and theories. This is not to say that physicists and biologists are incapable of discussing such
topics or of clarifying them. When they do so, however, they are speaking philosophically
about

science rather
than actually
doing

science.

"Philosophy of science" is the name given to that branch of philosophy that reflects on and critically analyzes
science. As a discipline, it tries to understand the aims and methods of science, along with its principles,
practices, and achievements. Philo
sophers try to provide precise answers to very broad questions about science,

such as the question just raised about the nature of scientific explanation. Some other
questions studied by philosophers of science are as follows:

What
are the aims of science?

What is the role of observations and

experiments

in obtaining scientific knowl
edge?

How

do scientists justify their claims? What is a scientific proof? What is a
scientific law?

Arc there methods for making scientific discoveries?

How does scientific knowledge
advance and grow? How do the historical and cultural settings in which scientific
work occurs affect

the content and quality of such work?
Does

science
employ or require a special

language?

Science itself is made up of many s
ubdisciplines: physics, astronomy, chem
istry, biology,
psychology, sociology, anthropology, and medicine, to name a few. The presence of so
many different fields within science raises interesting questions about what it means to be
a science and whether a

single method is common to all sciences. Philosophy of science
thus addresses also the following sorts of questions:

Is

it possible to give a general account of scientific methodology, or are there

different methods and forms of explanation for various br
anches of science? How
do physical, biological, and social sciences differ from one another?
Can

some
sciences be reduced to others?

Finally, philosophy of science is concerned with specific issues that arise in
connection with particular fields of science. For example, while experimentation plays a
major role in some sciences, in others, such as astronomy, it does not. Some other
disci
pline
-
specific questions are these;

Does

the

existence of free will pose a

special problem for a science of human

behavior?

Is

medicine more an art than a science? Are statistical techniques useful in
anthropology, where sample sizes are very

small?

All of the questions raised above are complex and difficult, so it should come
as

no
surprise that the opinions of philosophers of science (and scientists in their philosophical
moments) on these topics vary considerably. In the twentieth century, two disp
arate
approaches have been dominant. The earlier tradition, developed by logical positivists
(members of the Vienna Circle) and logical empiricists (a similar group from Berlin), set
rigorous standards for the conduct of philosophy of science, as close to
those of science
itself as the subject matter would allow. These philoso
phers and scientists attempted to
provide logical analyses of the nature of scientific

2
Introduction

concepts, the relation between evidence and theory, and the nature of scientific
explanation. In their desire to be precise, they made extensive use of the language and
techniques of symbolic logic. Despite many differences in points

of view, the logical
positivists and logical empiricists generally were concerned with emphasizing such
distinctions as

the demarcation between scientific knowledge and other types of knowledge,

the difference between facts and values,

the difference betw
een the language used to state observations and that used

to

refer to theoretical entities, and the difference between how theories are discovered
and how they are justified.

Logical empiricists and logical positivists were also concerned with establishing

clear
meanings for all the terms used in science. Some approached this problem by search
ing
for a verifiability criterion of meaning while others, particularly scientists them
selves,
tried to formulate operational definitions of scientific terms. These
efforts were closely
related to their concern with providing a solid foundation for scientific theorizing by
linking it firmly to an observational basis. Although they believed that justification rather
than discovery was the proper concern of science, the
y shared an optimism about the
ability of science to provide genuine knowledge of the features of an independently
existing world.

At the time of World War Two, many of these philosophers left Europe for England
and the United States where their works have

significantly affected the development of
philosophy of science in English
-
speaking countries. Even at the level of undergraduate
education, their influence has been important. Carl G. Hempel, who came to America
from Berlin, for example, has literally de
fined the philosophy of the natural sciences for
generations of students who first learned about the subject from his introductory text,
Philosophy of Natural Science

(1966). The power and broad influence of the general
approach outlined by Hempel in this
work justifies calling

it "the

standard view" of
philosophy of science.

During the past twenty
-
five years, however, many criticisms have been raised
against perceived faults of the standard view. (Indeed, Hempel himself has criticized some
of its features.
) A major objection is that the standard view fails to take account of the
bearing of history of science on the philosophy of science. Critics of the standard view
cite Thomas Kuhn's
Structure of Scientific Revolutions

(1962, 1970), which argues that
most
scientific textbooks ignore history and distort the real nature of progress in science
by presenting it as a series of accumulations of new discoveries that straightforwardly
build on and add to knowledge already attained. Kuhn draws attention

to

the revol
utionary
character of science

its replacement of outworn the
ories by newer ones that are so
different from the old that the two do not share the same problems or even a common
language. He also draws attention to the "irra
tional" aspects of changes in sc
ience, that is
to say, those features of scientific change that cannot be accounted for entirely in terms of
scientists' allegiance to "facts" and logic
-

Kuhn argues that only a refusal to take seriously
the history of science could account for the gross d
istortion presented in scientific
textbooks.

Introduction
3

Appealing to Kuhn's account of science, critics of the standard view of philos
ophy of
science sa
y that it embodies and promotes an ahistorical view of scientific activity by
emphasizing the logical characteristics of science while ignoring the

” cultural context of scientific activity, which strongly influences the style of the en
terprise
and the co
ntent of its results. Furthermore, critics say, failure to take account of the
rhetorical features of scientific discourse can only lead to a distorted notion

of
how science
really works. The values of society and of individual practitioners of science, th
ey say,
influence not only the choice of problems and the amount of effort devoted to their
solution, but also the interpretation of the results. They maintain that so
-
called facts can
only be grasped through theories, which are the creations of members of

a specific culture,
and are

never

completely free of the values and aspirations of that culture.

Both the standard view and that of its critics have merits and shortcomings. Both views are
likewise too complex to state succinctly without distortion and over
simplification; the
above brief synopsis
is

intended only to introduce the reader to the subjec
t. The ensuing
chapters will survey many aspects of the dispute and will examine the reasons offered in
support of the various positions.

The approach to the philosophy of science exemplified in this work does not fall
neatly into either of the two main ca
tegories briefly outlined. The authors of this text are all
members of a Department of History and Philosophy of Science. The marriage

I between history and philosophy in the Department is not merely one of convenience
between philosophers and historians e
ach of whom happens to be concerned with science.
Instead, the Department was founded because the members believe that the study of the
philosophy of science must be informed by an understanding of the

' historical and social context of science, as well as

by a grasp of the workings of science
itself. At the same time, the general approach of this book disavows the extreme forms of
relativism and skepticism that characterize

some of the more

stri
dent critics of the
standard view.

-
'

Part One of this book t
akes up topics requisite for any adequate introduction to the
philosophy of science: Explanation; Induction and Confirmation; Realism and the t Nature of
Scientific Theories: and Scientific Change: Perspectives and Proposals.

'' These four chapters outline

and discuss fundamental issues in philosophy of science and
form the foundation for discussions in the remaining chapters of the book. In Part One,
the reader is introduced to the pertinent history of the topics discussed as well as to the
vocabulary, tec
hniques, and most important issues in contemporary philos
ophy of science.
The intention of the authors in each case is to presume no prior knowledge of philosophy
of science, but to lead the reader to an appreciation of some of the knottiest problems that

concern contemporary philosophers of science. In the first chapter, "Scientific
Explanation," Wesley C. Salmon discusses the elements involved in the special kind of
understanding of our world and what takes place within it that is provided by the various

sciences. In the second chapter, The Confirmation of Scientific Hypotheses," John
Earman and Wesley C. Salmon deal with questions concerning the relationship between
empirical evidence and scientific hypotheses, laws, and theories. In the course of the
di
scussion they consider the nature of induc
tive reasoning and the meanings of the
concept of probability. Chapter 3, by Clark Glymour, considers the major traditional
arguments against literal belief in the claims

4

Introduction

of science and a range of responses to those arguments.

In

the fourth chapter, J. E. McGuire discusses the nature of
scientific change and progress in relation to

social
context and his
torical development.

In the remaining seven chapters, each of which deals with the philosophy of a special area of science, the authors assume
that the reader is familiar with the issues addressed in the first four chapters, though some topics depend less
heavily on
this than others. The chapters in Parts Two through Four can be read independently of one another, although they do
contain references to the materials covered in other chap
ters.

The philosophy of physical sciences is covered in Part Two (Chapt
ers 5 and 6). In "The Philosophy of Space and Time,"
John D. Norton introduces questions central to recent work in philosophy of space and time and illustrates how
philosoph
ical ideas about verification, conventions, realism, and theory reduction are appl
ied in physical theories of
space and time. In "Determinism in the Physical Sciences," John Barman surveys the implications of classical physics,
the special and general theories of relativity, and quantum mechanics for the doctrine that the world evolves
in a
deterministic manner.

Part

Three takes up the philosophy of biology and medicine with separate chapters on these topics. In "Philosophy of
Biology," James G. Lennox discusses the development of the so
-
called neo
-
Darwinian theory of evolution. Lennox
s
hows how this union ofMendelian genetics and Darwin's theory of natural selection pro
vides a powerful tool for
explaining evolutionary change and adaptation that operates differently from theories in the physical sciences. In
"Philosophy of Medicine," Ken
neth F. Schaffner, who has been trained as a physician as well as an historian and
philosopher of science, discusses the questions of whether medicine is a science and whether medicine can be reduced to
biology. He examines the nature of medicine as
an

ent
erprise incorporating ethical principles and the implications of this
for medi
cine's reduction to biology. Part Four, on the behavioral sciences, begins with Peter Machamer's chapter on
"Philosophy of Psychology." This chapter briefly surveys the relation
ships between philosophy and psychology and lays
out some of the topics that are and have been important to an understanding of psychology. The bulk of the chapter,
however, describes and assesses the nature of psychological theories

of
perception. The aut
hor's intent is to provide a
case study of what philosophers who are interested in psychology might do. In Chapter 10, "Android Epistemology,"
dark Glymour discusses philosophical issues raised by the exciting new field of Artificial Intelligence. He illus
trates the
influence of issues in philosophy of science on the design of artificial intelligence and expert systems programs. In the
final chapter, "Philosophy of Social Science," Merrilee H. Salmon addresses the issue of whether the so
-
called social
scien
ces really are entitled to the name, and discusses some of the special problems posed by disciplines that try to
explain human behavior by using the same methods thai have been so successful in the physical sciences.

Merrilee H. Salmon

Introduction

5