Ideals of Scientific Explanation and the Nature of Its Objects

Philosophy 310=Biology 310
Bryn Mawr College
Spring, 2005
19 April

Re-Thinking Philosophy of Science?
IV. Implications of Evolution, Emergence, and Neurobiology for Philosophy of Science
From last week (and preceding) ...
Evolution, EmergenceNeurobiology
  • no designer, blueprint, conductor
  • algorithmic exploration, what is depends on what has been and randomness
  • no "essentialism", no "immutables"
  • species (at any given time) themselves examples of "incomensurables"
  • no form/content distinction, no external reference frame
  • no final state (asymptotic or otherwise), no inevitability ("What starts without a Word ought not to be expected to be ended by one")
  • an ongoing exploration of quasi-stable forms of matter rather than a "struggle to survive"
  • an evolving, non-deterministic, somewhat inchoate "out there", which in turn discovers, brings into existence a distinction between "in here" and "out there" and causally significant "intentionality", "word", "meaning", additional reference frames?
  • the appearance of the bipartite brain and story telling
    • increased stability through "unitariness", solution to hill-climbing problem?
    • an idealist sitting on the back of a pragmatist
    • creation of new problems/opportunities ... conflict (in absence of absolute reference frame)
  • "perception" a product of brain, ALWAYS interaction/context-dependent, a resolution of ambiguous information and therefore never either definitive or inevitable
    • does not preclude possibility of noticing PARTICULAR aspects of context-dependence, successfully transcending them, but does make absolute transcendence unachievable
    • does not preclude possibility of interpersonal agreement, but does challenge notion of inevitability and even desireability of interpersonal agreement
  • Story telling introduces "reality", "intention", "meaning" .... "ideals" but they should always be recognized as creations/tools of the exploratory process and never misunderstood as definitive or inevitable
  • "Testability", "falsifiability", "correspondence theory of truth"? Implications for theory and practice of science?

Revisiting Science in Culture: Science as Story Telling and Story Revising (see also A Conversation)

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