From Methodology to Dialectics: A Post-Cartesian Approach to Scientific Rationality

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1986:359 - 374 (1986)
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Abstract

Although the recent, history-oriented philosophy of science has greatly contributed to the changes in many received views, a Cartesian syndrome seems still to affect many philosophers. Such a syndrome is the combination of the ideas that scientific research pursues its goals by obeying certain universal and impersonal rules, and that violating these rules leads to irrationality. This paper aims at suggesting a view which slips between these two horns. It maintains that scientific rationality does not depend on the respect of a mythical Methodological Code but on the kind of arguments scientists put forward in support of their claims in a dialectical setting. The recent cosmological debate is examined as an illustration and a tentative outline of the procedural and substantive basis of scientific dialectics is proposed.

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Marcello Pera
University of Pisa

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