Pluralism in Scientific Problem Solving. Why Inconsistency is No Big Deal

Humana Mente 10 (32):149-177 (2017)
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Pluralism has many meanings. An assessment of the need for logical pluralism with respect to scientific knowledge requires insights in its domain of application. So first a specific form of epistemic pluralism will be defended. Knowledge turns out a patchwork of knowledge chunks. These serve descriptive as well as evaluative functions, may have competitors within the knowledge system, interact with each other, and display a characteristic dynamics caused by new information as well as by mutual readjustment. Logics play a role in the organization of the chunks, in their applications and in the exchange of information between them. Epistemic pluralism causes a specific form of logical pluralism. Against this background, the occurrence of inconsistencies will be discussed together with required reactions and systematic ways to explicate them. Finally, the place of inconsistencies in the sciences will be considered. Seven theses will be proposed and argued for. The implications of each of these for pluralism will be considered. The general tenet is that paraconsistency plays an important role, bound to become more explicit in the future, but that the occurrence of inconsistencies does not basically affect the need for pluralism.



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Diderik Batens
University of Ghent