An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

Excerpt

Recent years have witnessed the publication of a large number of monographs, magazine articles, and books, whose subject matter has seemed to defy classification. Though they have been written, for the greater part, by scientists, they are not properly scientific. They begin with science, they talk about science, and they end with science, yet they do not conform at all to the tradition of scientific writings. Were it not for the fact that they differ in important ways from the usual books on logic they might be placed in this class. Yet they are not logical in the usual sense. Their repeated reference to philosophical issues tempts one to classify them with this group, yet the writings approach these problems in a new spirit and with a new method, which seem quite foreign to the traditional philosophy.

Confronted by such a state of affairs, one has two alternatives. On the one hand, he may examine this extensive literature carefully, decide upon the existent discipline with which it has the closest kinship, and force it into this compartment. The essential disadvantage of such a procedure is that it does violence to the traditional terminology. On the other hand, he may simply collect all of the literature together and define a new discipline ad hoc. This method has a corresponding disadvantage, for it defines the field by the crude extensional method rather than by classifying its problems; one can say of the new discipline only that it involves problems like those discussed in such-and-such monographs, articles, and books.

In spite of this important difficulty the latter method seems to offer the greatest prospect of success. It prescribes neither limits to the fie'd nor structure within its domain. It forces the problems into no predetermined form, yet it does not leave the field amorphous for it allows the problems themselves to take form according to their own char-

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