Lexington Books (2021)

The role of judgments of beauty in scientific theory evaluation is the subject of significant debate in contemporary philosophy of science. This book advances that debate by broadening its scope. In Judgments of Beauty in Theory Evaluation, the author argues that judgments of beauty are a justified part of theory evaluation of all sorts: not only scientific theory evaluation, but also philosophical theory evaluation. The author argues for this thesis by providing an account of beauty—inherited from Kant and Mothersill—on which the distinctive nature of judgments of beauty is that they are unprincipled, yet possible. The author then analyzes two important methods of theory evaluation—reflective equilibrium and simplicity—and argues that these methods require making judgments of beauty so understood. Finally, the author argues that these methods of theory evaluation are not anomalies, but that they point to a deeper lesson about the nature of theorizing and the necessity of using judgments of beauty to evaluate systems, like theories. This conclusion has implications for the debate in philosophy of science over judgments of beauty, but also prompts a reckoning in philosophy itself over the use of judgments of beauty in philosophical theory evaluation.
Keywords Beauty  Philosophical Methodology  Reflective Equilibrium  Coherence  Simplicity  Theoretical Virtues  Scientific Method  Aesthetic Judgments  Judgments  Principles
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Reprint years 2020, 2021
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ISBN(s) 9781498597173   1498597173
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