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Philosophy of Science

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Since the 1960s, two claims have been at the core of disputes about scientific change: that scientists reason rationally and that science is progressive. For most of this time discussions were polarized between philosophers, who defended traditional Enlightenment ideas about rationality and progress, and sociologists, who espoused relativism and constructivism. Recently, creative new ideas going beyond the polarized positions have come from the history of science, feminist criticism of science, psychology of science, and anthropology of science. Addressing the traditional arguments as well as building on these new ideas, Miriam Solomon constructs a new epistemology of science.

After discussions of the nature of empirical success and its relation to truth, Solomon offers a new, social account of scientific rationality. She shows that the pursuit of empirical success and truth can be consistent with both dissent and consensus, and that the distinction between dissent and consensus is of little epistemic significance. In building this social epistemology of science, she shows that scientific communities are not merely the locus of distributed expert knowledge and a resource for criticism but also the site of distributed decision making. Throughout, she illustrates her ideas with case studies from late-nineteenth- and twentieth-century physical and life sciences. Replacing the traditional focus on methods and heuristics to be applied by individual scientists, Solomon emphasizes science funding, administration, and policy. One of her goals is to have a positive influence on scientific decision making through practical social recommendations.

Microexplanation

In this study, Don Ross explores the relationship of economics to other branches of behavioral science, asking, in the course of his analysis, under what interpretation economics is a sound empirical science. The book explores the relationships between economic theory and the theoretical foundations of related disciplines that are relevant to the day-to-day work of economics—the cognitive and behavioral sciences. It asks whether the increasingly sophisticated techniques of microeconomic analysis have revealed any deep empirical regularities—whether technical improvement represents improvement in any other sense. Casting Daniel Dennett and Kenneth Binmore as its intellectual heroes, the book proposes a comprehensive model of economic theory that, Ross argues, does not supplant but recovers the core neoclassical insights and counters the caricaturish conception of neoclassicism so derided by advocates of behavioral or evolutionary economics.

Because he approaches his topic from the viewpoint of the philosophy of science, Ross devotes one chapter to the philosophical theory and terminology on which his argument depends and another to related philosophical issues. Two chapters provide the theoretical background in economics, one covering developments in neoclassical microeconomics and the other treating behavioral and experimental economics and evolutionary game theory. The three chapters at the heart of the argument then apply theses from the philosophy of cognitive science to foundational problems for economic theory. In these chapters economists will find a genuinely new way of thinking about the implications of cognitive science for economics and cognitive scientists will find in economic behavior a new testing site for the explanations of cognitive science.

Philosophical Papers on Molecular Biology

Despite the transformation in biological practice and theory brought about by discoveries in molecular biology, until recently philosophy of biology continued to focus on evolutionary biology. When the Human Genome Project got underway in the late 1980s and early 1990s, philosophers of biology—unlike historians and social scientists—had little to add to the debate. In this landmark collection of essays, Sahotra Sarkar broadens the scope of current discussions of the philosophy of biology, viewing molecular biology as a unifying perspective on life that complements that of evolutionary biology. His focus is on molecular biology, but the overriding question behind these papers is what molecular biology contributes to all traditional areas of biological research.

Molecular biology—described with some foresight in a 1938 Rockefeller Foundation report as a branch of science in which "delicate modern techniques are being used to investigate ever more minute details"—and its modeling strategies apparently argue in favor of physical reductionism. Sarkar's first three chapters explore reductionism—defending it, but cautioning that reduction to molecular interactions is not necessarily a reduction to genetics (and does not support the claims of either heriditarianism or environmentalism). The next sections of the book discuss function, exploring how functional explanations pose a problem for reductionism; the informational interpretation of biology and how it interacts with reductionism; and the tension between the unifying framework of molecular biology and the received framework of evolutionary theory. The concluding chapter is an essay in the emerging field of developmental evolution, exploring what molecular biology may contribute to the transformation of evolutionary theory as evolutionary theory takes into account morphogenetic development.

The Next Step

In Reconstructing the Cognitive World, Michael Wheeler argues that we should turn away from the generically Cartesian philosophical foundations of much contemporary cognitive science research and proposes instead a Heideggerian approach. Wheeler begins with an interpretation of Descartes. He defines Cartesian psychology as a conceptual framework of explanatory principles and shows how each of these principles is part of the deep assumptions of orthodox cognitive science (both classical and connectionist). Wheeler then turns to Heidegger's radically non-Cartesian account of everyday cognition, which, he argues, can be used to articulate the philosophical foundations of a genuinely non-Cartesian cognitive science. Finding that Heidegger's critique of Cartesian thinking falls short, even when supported by Hubert Dreyfus's influential critique of orthodox artificial intelligence, Wheeler suggests a new Heideggerian approach. He points to recent research in "embodied-embedded" cognitive science and proposes a Heideggerian framework to identify, amplify, and clarify the underlying philosophical foundations of this new work. He focuses much of his investigation on recent work in artificial intelligence-oriented robotics, discussing, among other topics, the nature and status of representational explanation, and whether (and to what extent) cognition is computation rather than a noncomputational phenomenon best described in the language of dynamical systems theory.

Wheeler's argument draws on analytic philosophy, continental philosophy, and empirical work to "reconstruct" the philosophical foundations of cognitive science in a time of a fundamental shift away from a generically Cartesian approach. His analysis demonstrates that Heideggerian continental philosophy and naturalistic cognitive science need not be mutually exclusive and shows further that a Heideggerian framework can act as the "conceptual glue" for new work in cognitive science.

Genetic, Epigenetic, Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life

Ideas about heredity and evolution are undergoing a revolutionary change. New findings in molecular biology challenge the gene-centered version of Darwinian theory according to which adaptation occurs only through natural selection of chance DNA variations. In Evolution in Four Dimensions, Eva Jablonka and Marion Lamb argue that there is more to heredity than genes. They trace four "dimensions" in evolution—four inheritance systems that play a role in evolution: genetic, epigenetic (or non-DNA cellular transmission of traits), behavioral, and symbolic (transmission through language and other forms of symbolic communication). These systems, they argue, can all provide variations on which natural selection can act. Evolution in Four Dimensions offers a richer, more complex view of evolution than the gene-based, one-dimensional view held by many today. The new synthesis advanced by Jablonka and Lamb makes clear that induced and acquired changes also play a role in evolution.

After discussing each of the four inheritance systems in detail, Jablonka and Lamb "put Humpty Dumpty together again" by showing how all of these systems interact. They consider how each may have originated and guided evolutionary history and they discuss the social and philosophical implications of the four-dimensional view of evolution. Each chapter ends with a dialogue in which the authors engage the contrarieties of the fictional (and skeptical) "I.M.," or Ifcha Mistabra—Aramaic for "the opposite conjecture"—refining their arguments against I.M.'s vigorous counterarguments. The lucid and accessible text is accompanied by artist-physician Anna Zeligowski's lively drawings, which humorously and effectively illustrate the authors' points.

Edited by Elliott Sober

These essays by leading scientists and philosophers address conceptual issues that arise in the theory and practice of evolutionary biology. The third edition of this widely used anthology has been substantially revised and updated. Four new sections have been added: on women in the evolutionary process, evolutionary psychology, laws in evolutionary theory, and race as social construction or biological reality. Other sections treat fitness, units of selection, adaptationism, reductionism, essentialism, species, phylogenetic inference, cultural evolution, and evolutionary ethics.

Each of the twelve sections contains two or three essays that develop different views of the subject at hand. For example, the section on evolutionary psychology offers one essay by two founders of the field and another that questions its main tenets. One sign that a discipline is growing is that there are open questions, with multiple answers still in competition; the essays in this volume demonstrate that evolutionary biology and the philosophy of evolutionary biology are living, growing disciplines.

Contributors:
Robin O. Andreasen, Kwame Anthony Appiah, David A. Baum, John H. Beatty, David J. Buller, Leda Cosmides, James Donoghue, Steven J. Farris, Joseph Felsenstein, Susan K. Finsen, Joseph Fracchia, Stephen Jay Gould, Sarah Blaffer Hrdy, David L. Hull, Philip Kitcher, R. C. Lewontin, Elisabeth Lloyd, Ernst Mayr, Michael Ruse, John Maynard Smith, Elliott Sober, John Tooby, C. Kenneth Waters, George C. Williams, David Sloan Wilson, E. O. Wilson

The contributions of Kantian thought to modern mathematics, mathematical logic, and the foundations of mathematics are now widely acknowledged by scholars. As the essays in this volume show, the general development of modern scientific thought--including the physical sciences, the life sciences, and mathematics--can be viewed as an evolution from Kant through Poincaré to Einstein and the logical positivists and beyond. Focusing on nineteenth-century science, the essays--by historians of philosophy, science, and mathematics--trace the multiple intellectual transformations that have led from Kant's original scientific situation to the scientific problems of the twentieth century.The book examines Kant's influence on five strands of nineteenth-century scientific thought: Naturphilosophie and the effect of German Romanticism (especially Goethe) on biology; Fries's philosophy of science; Helmholtz's rejection of Naturphilosophie and Romanticism; neo-Kantianism and its return to "methodological" concerns in natural science and academic philosophy; and Poincaré and his reflections on scientific epistemology. The essays give a nuanced picture of Kant's legacy to nineteenth-century thinkers and of the rich interaction between philosophical ideas and discoveries in the natural and mathematical sciences during this period. They point to the ways that the scientific developments of the nineteenth century link Kant's thought to the science of the twentieth century.Contributors:Frederick Beiser, Robert DiSalle, Janet Folina, Michael Friedman, Jeremy Gray, Frederick Gregory, Michael Heidelberger, Timothy Lenoir, Jesper Lützen, Alfred Nordmann, Helmut Pulte, Robert Richards, Alan Richardson

Evolutionary Psychology and the Persistent Quest for Human Nature

Was human nature designed by natural selection in the Pleistocene epoch? The dominant view in evolutionary psychology holds that it was—that our psychological adaptations were designed tens of thousands of years ago to solve problems faced by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. In this provocative and lively book, David Buller examines in detail the major claims of evolutionary psychology—the paradigm popularized by Steven Pinker in The Blank Slate and by David Buss in The Evolution of Desire—and rejects them all. This does not mean that we cannot apply evolutionary theory to human psychology, says Buller, but that the conventional wisdom in evolutionary psychology is misguided.

Evolutionary psychology employs a kind of reverse engineering to explain the evolved design of the mind, figuring out the adaptive problems our ancestors faced and then inferring the psychological adaptations that evolved to solve them. In the carefully argued central chapters of Adapting Minds, Buller scrutinizes several of evolutionary psychology's most highly publicized "discoveries," including "discriminative parental solicitude" (the idea that stepparents abuse their stepchildren at a higher rate than genetic parents abuse their biological children). Drawing on a wide range of empirical research, including his own large-scale study of child abuse, he shows that none is actually supported by the evidence.

Buller argues that our minds are not adapted to the Pleistocene, but, like the immune system, are continually adapting, over both evolutionary time and individual lifetimes. We must move beyond the reigning orthodoxy of evolutionary psychology to reach an accurate understanding of how human psychology is influenced by evolution. When we do, Buller claims, we will abandon not only the quest for human nature but the very idea of human nature itself.

New Essays on Its Nature and the Methodology of Its Study
Edited by Murat Aydede

What does feeling a sharp pain in one's hand have in common with seeing a red apple on the table? Some say not much, apart from the fact that they are both conscious experiences. To see an object is to perceive an extramental reality—in this case, a red apple. To feel a pain, by contrast, is to undergo a conscious experience that doesn't necessarily relate the subject to an objective reality. Perceptualists, however, dispute this. They say that both experiences are forms of perception of an objective reality. Feeling a pain in one's hand, according to this view, is perceiving an objective (physical) condition of one's hand. Who is closer to truth?

Because of such metaphysical issues, the subjectivity of pains combined with their clinical urgency raises methodological problems for pain scientists. How can a subjective phenomenon be studied objectively? What is the role of the first-person method (e.g., introspection) in science? Some suggest that the subjectivity of pains (and of conscious experiences in general) is due to their metaphysical irreducibility to purely physical processes in the nervous system. Can this be true?

The study of pain and its puzzles offers opportunities for understanding such larger issues as the place of consciousness in the natural order and the methodology of psychological research. In this book, leading philosophers and scientists offer a wide range of views on how to conceptualize and study pain. The essays include discussions of perceptual and representationalist accounts of pain; the affective-motivational dimension of pain; whether animals feel pain, and how this question can be investigated; how social pain relates to physical pain; whether first-person methods of gathering data can be integrated with standard third-person methods; and other methodological and theoretical issues in the science and philosophy of pain.

The idea of the gene has been a central organizing theme in contemporary biology, and the Human Genome project and biotechnological advances have put the gene in the media spotlight. In this book Lenny Moss reconstructs the history of the gene concept, placing it in the context of the perennial interplay between theories of preformationism and theories of epigenesis. He finds that there are not one, but two, fundamental—and fundamentally different—senses of "the gene" in scientific use—one the heir to preformationism and the other the heir to epigenesis. "Gene-P", the preformationist gene concept, serves as an instrumental predictor of phenotypic outcomes, while "Gene-D", the gene of epigenesis, is a developmental resource that specifies possible amino acid sequences for proteins. Moss argues that the popular idea that genes constitute blueprints for organisms is the result of an unwarranted conflation of these independently valid senses of the gene, and he analyzes the rhetorical basis of this conflation.

In the heart of the book, Moss uses the Gene-D/Gene-P distinction to examine the real basis of biological order and of the pathological loss of order in cancer. He provides a detailed analysis of the "order-from-order" role of cell membranes and compartmentalization and considers dynamic approaches to biological order such as that of Stuart Kauffman. He reviews the history of cancer research with an emphasis on the oncogene and tumor suppressor gene models and shows how these gene-centered strategies point back to the significance of higher level, multi-cellular organizational fields in the onset and progression of cancer. Finally, Moss draws on the findings of the Human Genome Project, biological modularity, and the growing interest in resynthesyzing theories of evolution and development to look beyond the "century of the gene" toward a rebirth of biological understanding.

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