Compellingness and the search for truth in scientific practice: Einstein showing realities of light and vacuums

Metaphilosophy 53 (5):724-735 (2022)
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Abstract

This paper warns against destructive effects of subjectivist thinking. Subjectivist accounts, as Alan Sokal exposed, promote a distorted view of scientific practice. For example, Einstein's 1905 special theory of relativity relied on data produced by Fizeau, a physicist trained in classical mechanics. Einstein's use of Fizeau's results shows that the ontological foundation of uncontroversial data transcends conventional speculations. Einstein's employment of Fizeau's results mitigates against ideas such as paradigm shifts and revolutionary science. Instead, the ontology of shared horizons of fact remains largely unadulterated. The descriptions scientists use accommodate received view shifts, but the horizon of fact remains unimpeachably the same. The apt performance of science shows what it means to move further away from error. The only direction away from error is toward truth. To deny the reality of this directionality flies in the face of common sense and prudent science.

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References found in this work

Knowledge and Social Imagery.David Bloor - 1979 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30 (2):195-199.
Considered Judgment.Catherine Z. Elgin - 1999 - Princeton University Press.
The Essential Tension.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (4):649-652.
Truth and predication.Donald Davidson - 2005 - Cambridge, Mass.: Edited by Donald Davidson.
Theory and Evidence.Clark Glymour - 1980 - Ethics 93 (3):613-615.

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