Die wissenschaftstheorie galileis — oder: Contra Feyerabend [Book Review]

Abstract

Galileo's Philosophy of Science - or: Contra Feyerabend. In analyzing Galileo's methodology, philosophers of science were using, misusing, and abusing his ideas rather unashamedly to suit their own purposes. Like so many others before him, Paul Feyerabend had come to the conclusion that his methodological ideas might gain momentum by demonstrating their compatibility with those of Galileo. The reinterpretation of Galileo as a true, though disguised, anarchist, was considered by Feyerabend as the most forceful, and indeed conclusive, case against rationalism in methodology which might be conceived in view of the privileged position ascribed to Galileo by both philosophers which might be conceived in view of the privileged position ascribed to Galileo by both philosophers and historians of science. The paper argues - against Feyerabend - that Galileo was not a methodological anarchist, neither in theory nor in practice. He had firm methodological convictions that remained basically the same throughout his entire career. In his view, essential and accidental causes of phenomena were not given by experience. Although mathematical and geometrical analysis was needed to discriminate between them, experience and experiment was considered by Galileo from his middle periode on as a means to identify among the set of explanations, demonstrable "ex suppositione" as being mathematically correct, those which could in addition be applied to reality. Thus, Galileo was neither an inductivist nor a naive falsificationist, nor a Copernican zealot adapting his methodology to the needs of his presumed fight for heliocentrism, come what be. Only after the reconstruction of mechanics was in a fairly advanced stage, and after his own telescopic observations had provided independent evidence in favor of the new astronomy, Galileo was in a position to appreciate the Copernican system as a most forceful ally in his fight for the recognition of his physical achievements. Through the end of his life, his view of the heliocentric system remained rather traditional in adhering firmly to the principles of epicyclic and circular motion, as far as the heavens were concerned

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