The Marburg neo-Kantians argue that Hermann von Helmholtz's empiricist account of the a priori does not account for certain knowledge, since it is based on a psychological phenomenon, trust in the regularities of nature. They argue that Helmholtz's account raises the 'problem of validity' (Gueltigkeitsproblem): how to establish a warranted claim that observed regularities are based on actual relations. I reconstruct Heinrich Hertz's and Ludwig Wittgenstein's Bild theoretic answer to the problem of validity: that scientists and philosophers can depict the (...) necessary a priori constraints on states of affairs in a given system, and can establish whether these relations are actual relations in nature. The analysis of necessity within a system is a lasting contribution of the Bild theory. However, Hertz and Wittgenstein argue that the logical and mathematical sentences of a Bild are rules, tools for constructing relations, and the rules themselves are meaningless outside the theory. Carnap revises the argument for validity by attempting to give semantic rules for translation between frameworks. Russell and Quine object that pragmatics better accounts for the role of a priori reasoning in translating between frameworks. The conclusion of the tale, then, is a partial vindication of Helmholtz's original account. (shrink)
The conception of a ‘law of nature’ is a human product. It was created to play a role in natural philosophy, in the Cartesian tradition. In light of this, philosophers and scientists must sort out what they mean by a law of nature before evaluating rival theories and approaches. If one’s conception of the laws of nature is yoked to metaphysical notions of truth and explanation, that connection must be made explicit and defended. If, on the other hand, one’s aim (...) is to disentangle laws from truth or from explanation, that must be stated and defended as well. If philosophers do not make such assumptions, intuitions, and methodological commitments clear, then it will be impossible to identify the source of disagreement in debates about the laws of nature. Are the conflicts rooted in disagreement about the conclusions reached, or do the background commitments of the combatants block any resolution to the dispute in principle or in practice? (shrink)
What is the origin of the concept of a law of nature? How much does it owe to theology and metaphysics? To what extent do the laws of nature permit contingency? Are there exceptions to the laws of nature? Is it possible to give a reductive analysis of lawhood, or is it a primitive? -/- Twelve brand-new essays by an international team of leading philosophers take up these and other central questions on the laws of nature, whilst also examining some (...) of the most important intuitions and assumptions that have guided the debate over laws of nature since the concept's invention in the seventeenth century. -/- Laws of Nature spans the history of philosophy and of science, contemporary metaphysics, and contemporary philosophy of science. Contents: 1. Intuitions and Assumptions in the Debate over Laws of Nature, Walter Ott and Lydia Patton 2. Early Modern Roots of the Philosophical Concept of a Law of Nature, Helen Hattab 3. Laws of Nature and the Divine Order of Things: Descartes and Newton on Truth in Natural Philosophy, Mary Domski 4. Leges sive natura: Bacon, Spinoza, and a Forgotten Concept of Law, Walter Ott 5. Laws and Powers in the Frame of Nature, Stathis Psillos 6. Laws and Ideal Unity, Angela Breitenbach 7. Becoming Humean, John W. Carroll 8. A Perspectivalist Better Best System Account of Lawhood, Michela Massimi 9. Laws: An Invariance Based Account, James Woodward 10. How the Explanations of Natural Laws Make Some Reducible Physical Properties Natural and Explanatorily Powerful, Marc Lange 11. Laws and their Exceptions, Stephen Mumford 12. Are laws of nature consistent with contingency?, Nancy Cartwright and Pedro Merlussi. (shrink)
Hermann von Helmholtz allows for not only physiological facts and psychological inferences, but also perspectival reasoning, to influence perceptual experience and knowledge gained from perception. But Helmholtz also defends a version of the view according to which there can be a kind of “perspectival truth” revealed in scientific research and investigation. Helmholtz argues that the relationships between subjective and objective, real and actual, actual and illusory, must be analyzed scientifically, within experience. There is no standpoint outside experience from which we (...) can reason, no extra-sensory knowledge of the constitution of the “ideal subject” or of the properties of “real objects.” In the tradition of psychophysics inherited by Helmholtz, we can arrive at a kind of perspectival analysis of perceptual experience, which embeds an account of that experience within the context of the history and situation of the perceiving subject. That analysis is relative to the perceiving subject, but the perspectival explanations Helmholtz constructs are not thereby relativist: in fact, for Helmholtz, the more squarely the perceiving subject is placed in a scientific, perspectival context, the more facts we are able to learn about her experience and the objects with which she interacts. (shrink)
In the growing Prussian university system of the early nineteenth century, "Wissenschaft" (science) was seen as an endeavor common to university faculties, characterized by a rigorous methodology. On this view, history and jurisprudence are sciences, as much as is physics. Nineteenth century trends challenged this view: the increasing influence of materialist and positivist philosophies, profound changes in the relationships between university faculties, and the defense of Kant's classification of the sciences by neo-Kantians. Wilhelm Dilthey's defense of the independence of the (...) methodology of the human sciences (Geisteswissenschaften) from those of the natural sciences (Naturwissenschaften) is as much a return to the ideal of Wissenschaft as a cooperative endeavor as it is a defense of the autonomy of interpretive or hermeneutic methods. The debate between Dilthey and the neo-Kantian Wilhelm Windelband at the close of the century illuminates the development of this dialogue over the nineteenth century. (shrink)
In my dissertation, I present Hermann Cohen's foundation for the history and philosophy of science. My investigation begins with Cohen's formulation of a neo-Kantian epistemology. I analyze Cohen's early work, especially his contributions to 19th century debates about the theory of knowledge. I conclude by examining Cohen's mature theory of science in two works, The Principle of the Infinitesimal Method and its History of 1883, and Cohen's extensive 1914 Introduction to Friedrich Lange's History of Materialism. In the former, Cohen gives (...) an historical and philosophical analysis of the foundations of the infinitesimal method in mathematics. In the latter, Cohen presents a detailed account of Heinrich Hertz's Principles of Mechanics of 1894. Hertz considers a series of possible foundations for mechanics, in the interest of finding a secure conceptual basis for mechanical theories. Cohen argues that Hertz's analysis can be completed, and his goal achieved, by means of a philosophical examination of the role of mathematical principles and fundamental concepts in scientific theories. (shrink)
I examine the role of inference from experiment in theory building. What are the options open to the scientific community when faced with an experimental result that appears to be in conflict with accepted theory? I distinguish, in Laudan's (1977), Nickels's (1981), and Franklin's (1993) sense, between the context of pursuit and the context of justification of a scientific theory. Making this distinction allows for a productive middle position between epistemic realism and constructivism. The decision to pursue a new or (...) a revised theory in response to the new evidence may not be fully rationally determined. Nonetheless, it is possible to distinguish the question of whether there is reason to pursue a theory from the question of whether that theory, once it has been pursued over time, solves a problem of interest to science. I argue that, in this context, there is a solid way to distinguish between the contexts of pursuit and of justification, on the basis of a theory's evidential support and problem-solving ability. (shrink)
In the early 1900s, Russell began to recognize that he, and many other mathematicians, had been using assertions like the Axiom of Choice implicitly, and without explicitly proving them. In working with the Axioms of Choice, Infinity, and Reducibility, and his and Whitehead’s Multiplicative Axiom, Russell came to take the position that some axioms are necessary to recovering certain results of mathematics, but may not be proven to be true absolutely. The essay traces historical roots of, and motivations for, Russell’s (...) method of analysis, which are intended to shed light on his view about the status of mathematical axioms. I describe the position Russell develops in consequence as “immanent logicism,” in contrast to what Irving (1989) describes as “epistemic logicism.” Immanent logicism allows Russell to avoid the logocentric predicament, and to propose a method for discovering structural relationships of dependence within mathematical theories. (shrink)
Moti Mizrahi has argued that Thomas Kuhn does not have a good argument for the incommensurability of successive scientific paradigms. With Rouse, Andersen, and others, I defend a view on which Kuhn primarily was trying to explain scientific practice in Structure. Kuhn, like Hilary Putnam, incorporated sociological and psychological methods into his history of science. On Kuhn’s account, the education and initiation of scientists into a research tradition is a key element in scientific training and in his explanation of incommensurability (...) between research paradigms. The first part of this paper will explain and defend my reading of Kuhn. The second part will probe the extent to which Kuhn’s account can be supported, and the extent to which it rests on shaky premises. That investigation will center on Moti Mizrahi’s project, which aims to transform the Kuhnian account of science and of its history. While I do defend a modified kind of incommensurability, I agree that the strongest version of Kuhn’s account is steadfastly local and focused on the practice of science. (shrink)
Scientists working within a paradigm must play by the rules of the game of that paradigm in solving problems, and that is why incommensurability arises when the rules of the game change. If we deny the thesis of the priority of paradigms, then there is no good argument for the incommensurability of theories and thus for taxonomic incommensurability, because there is no invariant way to determine the set of results provable, puzzles solvable, and propositions cogently formulable under a given paradigm.
Kant's account of space as an infinite given magnitude in the Critique of Pure Reason is paradoxical, since infinite magnitudes go beyond the limits of possible experience. Michael Friedman's and Charles Parsons's accounts make sense of geometrical construction, but I argue that they do not resolve the paradox. I argue that metaphysical space is based on the ability of the subject to generate distinctly oriented spatial magnitudes of invariant scalar quantity through translation or rotation. The set of determinately oriented, constructed (...) geometrical spaces is a proper subset of metaphysical space, thus, metaphysical space is infinite. Kant's paradoxical doctrine of metaphysical space is necessary to reconcile his empiricism with his transcendental idealism. (shrink)
Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) participated in two of the most significant developments in physics and in the philosophy of science in the 19th century: the proof that Euclidean geometry does not describe the only possible visualizable and physical space, and the shift from physics based on actions between particles at a distance to the field theory. Helmholtz achieved a staggering number of scientific results, including the formulation of energy conservation, the vortex equations for fluid dynamics, the notion of free energy (...) in thermodynamics, and the invention of the ophthalmoscope. His constant interest in the epistemology of science guarantees his enduring significance for philosophy. (shrink)
Detlefsen (1986) reads Hilbert's program as a sophisticated defense of instrumentalism, but Feferman (1998) has it that Hilbert's program leaves significant ontological questions unanswered. One such question is of the reference of individual number terms. Hilbert's use of admittedly "meaningless" signs for numbers and formulae appears to impair his ability to establish the reference of mathematical terms and the content of mathematical propositions (Weyl (1949); Kitcher (1976)). The paper traces the history and context of Hilbert's reasoning about signs, which illuminates (...) Hilbert's account of mathematical objectivity, axiomatics, idealization, and consistency. (shrink)
Ernst Mach’s defense of relativist theories of motion in Die Mechanik involves a well-known criticism of Newton’s theory appealing to absolute space, and of Newton’s “bucket” experiment. Sympathetic readers (Norton 1995) and critics (Stein 1967, 1977) agree that there’s a tension in Mach’s view: he allows for some constructed scientific concepts, but not others, and some kinds of reasoning about unobserved phenomena, but not others. Following Banks (2003), I argue that this tension can be interpreted as a constructive one, springing (...) from Mach’s approach to scientific reasoning. Mach’s “economy of science” allows for a principled distinction to be made, between natural and artificial hypothetical reasoning, and Mach defends a division of labor between the sciences in a 1903 paper for The Monist, “Space and Geometry from the Point of View of Physical Inquiry”. That division supports counterfactual reasoning in Mach’s system, something that’s long been denied is possible for him. (shrink)
The framework of the modern Western analysis of culture, in terms of the socio-historical situation of the subject and the reciprocal influence of one on the other, has its roots in nineteenth century discussions. This paper will examine two traditions: the hermeneutic approach of Wilhelm Dilthey, and the Völkerpsychologie of Moses Lazarus and Chajim Steinthal. The account will focus on two elements. First, Lazarus and Steinthal attempted to motivate an account based on collective structures, or forms, of rationality made manifest (...) by a people or Volk; the paper will explore their account of how collective structures can be employed in sociohistorical analysis. Second, Dilthey rejected Lazarus’s and Steinthal’s argument that it was possible to identify the norms of action governing social phenomena. Dilthey rejected any account of psychology that took it to be law-governed, even retrospectively, because he argued that the ‘nexus of life’ that is the ultimate basis of the human sciences cannot be reduced to any law-governed or explanatory relationship between the self, society, and nature. However, there is a deep tension in Dilthey’s position here, which is evident in the development of his work over time. The account below will explore this tension and its significance for the understanding of the subject and the role of psychology in the human sciences. (shrink)
Psillos, Kitcher, and Leplin have defended convergent scientific realism against the pessimistic meta-induction by arguing for the divide et impera strategy. I argue that DEI faces a problem more serious than the pessimistic meta-induction: the problem of accretion. When empirically successful theories and principles are combined, they may no longer make successful predictions or allow for accurate calculations, or the combination otherwise may be an empirical failure. The shift from classical mechanics to the new quantum theory does not reflect the (...) discarding of “idle wheels.” Instead, scientists had to contend with new principles that made classical calculations difficult or impossible, and new results that were inconsistent with classical theorems, and that suggested a new way of conceiving of atomic dynamics. In this shift, reference to atoms and to electrons was preserved, but the underlying causal explanations and descriptions of atoms and electrons changed. I propose that the emphasis on accurate description of causal agents as a virtue of background theory be replaced with Ruetsche’s advocacy of pragmatic, modal resourcefulness. (shrink)
This paper will focus on a famous nineteenth century debate over the physiology of perception between Ewald Hering and Hermann von Helmholtz. This debate is often explained as a contest between empiricism (Helmholtz) and nativism (Hering) about perception. I will argue that this is only part of the picture. Hering was a pioneer of Lamarckian explanations, arguing for an early version of the biogenetic law. Hering explains physical processes, including perception, in terms of ‘organic memory’ that is supported by ‘vital (...) forces’ located throughout the body. Helmholtz, on the other hand, argues that vital forces are in direct conflict with the results he and others proved in the 1840s and 50s on the conservation of force. The battleground of the debate was the interpretation of Johannes Müller’s ‘law of specific nerve energies’, which Hering interpreted in terms of vital forces, and Helmholtz interpreted using a naturalized neo-Kantian approach. In the end, the debate revealed deep fissures in nineteenth century accounts of scientific explanation, as well as in the conception of how physiology, psychology, physics, and philosophy are related. (shrink)
In the nineteenth century, the separation of naturalist or psychological accounts of validity from normative validity came into question. In his 1877 Logical Studies (Logische Studien), Friedrich Albert Lange argues that the basis for necessary inference is demonstration, which takes place by spatially delimiting the extension of concepts using imagined or physical diagrams. These diagrams are signs or indications of concepts' extension, but do not represent their content. Only the inference as a whole captures the objective content of the proof. (...) Thus, Lange argues, the necessity of an inference is independent of psychological accounts of how we grasp the content of a proposition. (shrink)
Ott (2009) identifies two kinds of philosophical theories about laws: top-down, and bottom-up. An influential top-down reading, exemplified by Ernst Cassirer, emphasized the ‘mere form of law’. Recent bottom-up accounts emphasize the mind-independent natures of objects as the basis of laws of nature. Stang and Pollok in turn focus on the transcendental idealist elements of Kant’s theory of matter, which leads to the question: is the essence of Kantian matter that it obeys the form of law? I argue that Kant (...) has an independent theory of matter in the Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science, one that gives what Kant himself calls a ‘real definition’ of matter as a theory-independent (if not mind-independent) entity. I argue that this matter theory underpins physical arguments about inertia and impenetrability, which resemble Einstein’s arguments about the unification of fields in general relativity. (shrink)
In this paper, building on recent and longstanding work (Warren 2001, Friedman 2013, Glezer 2018), I investigate how the account of the essences or natures of material substances in the Metaphysical Foundations is related to Kant’s demand for the completeness of the system of nature. We must ascribe causal powers to material substances for the properties of those substances to be observable and knowable. But defining those causal powers requires admitting laws of nature, taken as axioms or principles of natural (...) science, which govern anything that can be constructed mathematically or “given as an object of experience” (MAN, 4:474–75). Presenting a complete system of nature requires adumbrating the properties of material substances that can be objects of experience. But it is not possible to show how those properties are involved in explanations of the phenomena without involving the laws that govern interactions between material substances. For Kant, or so I will argue, it is not possible to account for the natures of things, or for the features of laws of nature, independently of each other. The paper will substantiate the Finitist Account (FA) of Kant on laws. The Finitist Account has it that modal judgments about the possible proofs that can be made, or interactions that can be explained, are (1) based on concrete intuitive reasoning and motivated by the desire to avoid appeal to the actual infinite, (2) grounded in finite decision procedures, which are (3) based on reliable systems of axioms or rules of inference. (shrink)
German supporters of the Kantian philosophy in the late 19th century took one of two forks in the road: the fork leading to Baden, and the Southwest School of neo-Kantian philosophy, and the fork leading to Marburg, and the Marburg School, founded by Hermann Cohen. Between 1876, when Cohen came to Marburg, and 1918, the year of Cohen's death, Cohen, with his Marburg School, had a profound influence on German academia.
Friedrich Albert Lange (b. 1828, d. 1875) was a German philosopher, pedagogue, political activist, and journalist. He was one of the originators of neo-Kantianism and an important figure in the founding of the Marburg school of neo-Kantianism. He is also played a significant role in the German labour movement and in the development of social democratic thought. His book, THE HISTORY OF MATERIALISM, was a standard introduction to materialism and the history of philosophy well into the twentieth century.
A well known conception of axiomatization has it that an axiomatized theory must be interpreted, or otherwise coordinated with reality, in order to acquire empirical content. An early version of this account is often ascribed to key figures in the logical empiricist movement, and to central figures in the early “formalist” tradition in mathematics as well. In this context, Reichenbach’s “coordinative definitions” are regarded as investing abstract propositions with empirical significance. We argue that over-emphasis on the abstract elements of this (...) approach fails to appreciate a rich tradition of empirical axiomatization in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, evident in particular in the work of Moritz Pasch, Heinrich Hertz, David Hilbert, and Reichenbach himself. We claim that such over-emphasis leads to a misunderstanding of the role of empirical facts in Reichenbach’s approach to the axiomatization of a physical theory, and of the role of Reichenbach’s coordinative definitions in particular. (shrink)
Philosophers of science have long been concerned with the question of what a given scientific theory tells us about the contents of the world, but relatively little attention has been paid to how we set out to build theories and to the relevance of pre-theoretical methodology on a theory’s interpretation. In the traditional view, the form and content of a mature theory can be separated from any tentative ontological assumptions that went into its development. For this reason, the target of (...) interpretation is taken to be the mature theory and nothing more. On this view, positions on ontology emerge only once a theory is to hand, not as part of the process of theory building. Serious attention to theory creation suggests this is too simple. In particular, data collection and experimentation are influenced both by theory and by assumptions about the entities thought to be the target of study. Initial reasoning about possible ontologies has an influence on the choice of theoretical variables as well as on the judgments of the methodology appropriate to investigate them. (shrink)
Two questions should be considered when assessing the Kantian dimensions of Kuhn’s thought. First, was Kuhn himself a Kantian? Second, did Kuhn have an influence on later Kantians and neo-Kantians? Kuhn mentioned Kant as an inspiration, and his focus on explanatory frameworks and on the conditions of knowledge appear Kantian. But Kuhn’s emphasis on learning; on activities of symbolization; on paradigms as practical, not just theoretical; and on the social and community aspects of scientific research as constitutive of scientific reasoning, (...) are all outside the Kantian perspective. Kuhn’s admiration for Kant is tempered by his desire to understand the processes of learning, of initiation into a scientific community, of experimentation using instruments, and of persuasion, drawing on the work of familiar influences, including Piaget, Koyré, and Wittgenstein, and less familiar ones, including Langer, Demos, and Frank. Both Kuhn and Kant were interested in the question: what is the status of science, and what is the role of the scientist in its development and justification? But Kuhn presents science in a much more messy, historically contingent, and socially charged way than Kant does. The paper’s conclusion evaluates Kuhn’s reception among researchers including Richardson and Friedman, assessing the prospects for future work. (shrink)
Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) established results both controversial and enduring: analysis of mixed colors and of combination tones, arguments against nativism, and the analysis of sensation and perception using the techniques of natural science. The paper focuses on Helmholtz’s account of sensation, perception, and representation via “physiological psychology”. Helmholtz emphasized that external stimuli of sensations are causes, and sensations are their effects, and he had a practical and naturalist orientation toward the analysis of phenomenal experience. However, he argued as well (...) that sensation must be interpreted to yield representation, and that representation is geared toward objective representation (the central thesis of contemporary intentionalism). The interpretation of sensation is based on “facts” revealed in experiment, but extends to the analysis of the quantitative, causal relationships between stimuli and responses. A key question for Helmholtz’s theory is the extent to which mental operations are to be ascribed a role in interpreting sensation. (shrink)
My paper will analyze Cassirer’s logic of the cultural sciences as it developed in close engagement with work on logic, psychology, biology, and linguistics in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The paper focuses on Chajim Steinthal, who sees the “expressive form” of language as a natural function of human engagement with the environment, developing independently of logic. When read in the context of his engagement with Steinthal, the biologist Uexküll, and the neuroscientist Kurt Goldstein, The Philosophy of Symbolic Forms (...) reimagines the role of logic and language in the construction of the cultural world. This provides a reading of what Cassirer means by the logic of the cultural sciences, and what he means by culture itself. My reading highlights the tension, which I argue stems from Steinthal’s earlier work, between the assertion that phenomena including linguistic expression, living beings, and consciousness develop independently of a unifying logic, and Cassirer’s assertion that we live in a common, objective human world. (shrink)
George Boole emerged from the British tradition of the “New Analytic”, known for the view that the laws of logic are laws of thought. Logicians in the New Analytic tradition were influenced by the work of Immanuel Kant, and by the German logicians Wilhelm Traugott Krug and Wilhelm Esser, among others. In his 1854 work An Investigation of the Laws of Thought on Which are Founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities, Boole argues that the laws of thought acquire (...) normative force when constrained to mathematical reasoning. Boole’s motivation is, first, to address issues in the foundations of mathematics, including the relationship between arithmetic and algebra, and the study and application of differential equations (Durand-Richard, van Evra, Panteki). Second, Boole intended to derive the laws of logic from the laws of the operation of the human mind, and to show that these laws were valid of algebra and of logic both, when applied to a restricted domain. Boole’s thorough and flexible work in these areas influenced the development of model theory (see Hodges, forthcoming), and has much in common with contemporary inferentialist approaches to logic (found in, e.g., Peregrin and Resnik). (shrink)
A volume dealing seriously with the influence of the major schools of Neo-Kantian thought on contemporary philosophy has been needed sorely for some time. But this volume of essays aims higher: it 'is published in the hopes that it will secure Neo-Kantianism a significant place in contemporary philosophical discussions' (Introduction, 1). The aim of the book, then, is partly to provide a history of major Neo-Kantian thinkers and their influence, and partly to argue for their importance in contemporary (continental) philosophy.
Francesca Biagioli’s Space, Number, and Geometry from Helmholtz to Cassirer is a substantial and pathbreaking contribution to the energetic and growing field of researchers delving into the physics, physiology, psychology, and mathematics of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The book provides a bracing and painstakingly researched re-appreciation of the work of Hermann von Helmholtz and Ernst Cassirer, and of their place in the tradition, and is worth study for that alone. The contributions of the book go far beyond that, however. (...) It is a clear, accurate, and deep account of fascinating and philosophically momentous implications of the move to relativity theory. (shrink)
Philosophy, Science, and History: A Guide and Reader is a compact overview of HOPOS that aims to introduce students to the groundwork of the field. Part I of the Reader begins with classic texts in the history of logical empiricism, including Reichenbach's discovery-justification distinction. With careful reference to Kuhn's analysis of scientific revolutions, the section provides key texts analyzing the relationship of HOPOS to the history of science, including texts by Santayana, Rudwick, and Shapin and Schaffer. Part II provides texts (...) illuminating central debates in the history of science and its philosophy. These include the history of natural philosophy (Descartes, Newton, Leibniz, Kant, Hume, and du Châtelet in a new translation); induction and the logic of discovery (including the Mill-Whewell debate, Duhem, and Hanson); and catastrophism versus uniformitarianism in natural history (Playfair on Hutton and Lyell; de Buffon, Cuvier, and Darwin). The editor's introductions to each section provide a broader perspective informed by contemporary research in each area, including related topics. (shrink)
Ernst Cassirer’s focus on the expressive function of language should be read, not in the context of Carnap’s debate with Heidegger, but in the context of the earlier work of Chajim (Heymann) Steinthal. Steinthal distinguishes the expressive form of language, when language is studied as a natural phenomenon, from language as a logical, inferential system. Steinthal argues that language always can be expressed in terms of logical inference. Thus, he would disagree with Heidegger, just as Carnap does. But, Steinthal insists, (...) that is not to say that language, as a natural phenomenon, is exhausted by logic or by the place of terms or relations in inferential structures. Steinthal’s “form” of linguistic “expression” is an early version of Cassirer’s “expressive function” for language. The expressive function, then, should not be seen to place a barrier between Carnap and Cassirer. Rather, Steinthal and Cassirer deal with a question that, as far as I know, Carnap does not address directly: how should philosophers analyze human language as a natural phenomenon, as a part of our expression as animals? And how does that expression determine the semantic categories, kind terms, and other structures that develop within, and characterize, human language itself? (shrink)
Translation for this volume by Lydia Patton of Chapter 9 (pages 179-200) of Émilie du Châtelet's Institutions de Physique (Foundations of Physics). Original publication date 1750. Paris: Chez Prault Fils.
Experiments may not reveal their full import at the time that they are performed. The scientists who perform them usually are testing a specific hypothesis and quite often have specific expectations limiting the possible inferences that can be drawn from the experiment. Nonetheless, as Hacking has said, experiments have lives of their own. Those lives do not end with the initial report of the results and consequences of the experiment. Going back and rethinking the consequences of the experiment in a (...) new context, theoretical or empirical, has great merit as a strategy for investigation and for scientific problem analysis. I apply this analysis to the interplay between Fizeau's classic optical experiments and the building of special relativity. Einstein's understanding of the problems facing classical electrodynamics and optics, in part, was informed by Fizeau's 1851 experiments. However, between 1851 and 1905, Fizeau's experiments were duplicated and reinterpreted by a succession of scientists, including Hertz, Lorentz, and Michelson. Einstein's analysis of the consequences of the experiments is tied closely to this theoretical and experimental tradition. However, Einstein's own inferences from the experiments differ greatly from the inferences drawn by others in that tradition. (shrink)
The multiple detections of gravitational waves by LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), operated by Caltech and MIT, have been acclaimed as confirming Einstein's prediction, a century ago, that gravitational waves propagating as ripples in spacetime would be detected. Yunes and Pretorius (2009) investigate whether LIGO's template-based searches encode fundamental assumptions, especially the assumption that the background theory of general relativity is an accurate description of the phenomena detected in the search. They construct the parametrized post-Einsteinian (ppE) framework in response, (...) which broadens those assumptions and allows for wider testing under more flexible assumptions. Their methods are consistent with work on confirmation and testing found in Carnap (1936), Hempel (1969), and Stein (1992, 1994), with the following principles in common: that confirmation is distinct from testing, and that, counterintuitively, revising a theory's formal basis can make it more broadly empirically testable. These views encourage a method according to which theories can be made abstract, to define families of general structures for the purpose of testing. With the development of the ppE framework and related approaches, multi-messenger astronomy is a catalyst for deep reasoning about the limits and potential of the theoretical framework of general relativity. (shrink)
That the history and the philosophy of science have been united in a form of disciplinary marriage is a fact. There are pressing questions about the state of this union. Discourse on a New Method: Reinvigorating the Marriage of History and Philosophy of Science is a state of the union address, but also an articulation of compelling and well-defended positions on strategies for making progress in the history and philosophy of science.
William Boos (1943–2014) was a mathematician, set theorist, and philosopher. His work is at the intersection of these fields. In particular, Boos looks at the classic problems of epistemology through the lens of the axiomatic method in mathematics and physics, or something resembling that method.
Hyder constructs two historical narratives. First, he gives an account of Helmholtz's relation to Kant, from the famous Raumproblem, which preoccupied philosophers, geometers, and scientists in the mid-19th century, to Helmholtz's arguments in his four papers on geometry from 1868 to 1878 that geometry is, in some sense, an empirical science (chapters 5 and 6). The second theme is the argument for the necessity of central forces to a determinate scientific description of physical reality, an abiding concern of Helmholtz's, and (...) one that, as Hyder shows, has Kantian roots. Helmholtz's commitment to the necessity of central forces was key to his responses to rival views on electromagnetism, and is a deep and often under-appreciated element of his epistemology of science. (shrink)
In _Aspects of Scientific Explanation_ (New York, 1965), Carl Hempel argued that the philosophy of science should focus on objectivist explanation and should not incorporate an account of pragmatic or subjective understanding. The stated aim of this collection of essays is to argue against Hempel's objectivist view by arguing for incorporating accounts of understanding into the philosophy of science and by giving a substantive account of the role of understanding in modeling and in scientific practice. The volume is ambitious and (...) wide ranging, including essays on economics, biology, psychology, and history, among other matters. The essays make a substantive contribution, not only to accounts of scientific understanding, but to debates about methodology in science and about methods in history and philosophy of science. The ambitious reach of the project raises inevitable questions, including a pressing one about the relationship between the subjective and the objective in science - how to distinguish substantive understanding from explanation. (shrink)
In this intricately crafted history by Frederick C. Beiser, the neo-Kantian philosophy is not merely a doctrine or an approach to philosophical questions; it is also a strategy. From the beginning, the neo-Kantians were concerned to establish the independence, relevance, and power of philosophy. The historical situation of the neo-Kantian tradition is distinct from ours. On Beiser's telling, the historical context only puts into sharper focus how much their predicament is ours and how many of their preoccupations we share.
Recent work on the philosophy of Hermann Cohen (1848-1914), founder of the Marburg School of Neo-Kantianism, has appeared in three distinct circles in the English-speaking philosophical context. Cohen re-interpreted Kant's a priori to take scientific developments into account. Michael Friedman acknowledges that the later development of this view by Cohen's intellectual heir Ernst Cassirer influenced Friedman's work on the dynamic a priori, especially in the history and philosophy of science. Owing to Cohen's links to Franz Rosenzweig, scholars have begun to (...) investigate Cohen's philosophy with reference to Derrida, Benjamin, Habermas, and Levinas and the philosophy of responsibility. And there is increasing interest in analyzing Cohen's influence on Deleuze and Badiou, particularly in the areas of ethics and aesthetics. (shrink)
Editor’s Note.Lydia Patton - 2020 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 10 (1):225-225.details
HOPOS is proud to support this special issue, “Descriptive Psychology and Völkerpsychologie—in the Contexts of Historicism, Relativism, and Naturalism.” The issue emerges from a workshop at the University of Vienna in 2017. It is edited by Christian Damböck, Uljana Feest, and Martin Kusch.
Natural Science is a new volume of the Cambridge translations of Kant's works. It makes available some of the most significant texts of Kant's pre-Critical period, some appearing for the first time in English translation. The translations are largely clear and accurate. Eric Watkins is a sure and knowledgeable editor, and provides concise and informative introductions to each text.