Philosophy of Science, Logic, and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century

By Stuart G. Shanker | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7

The philosophy of science today

Joseph Agassi


THE PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE HAS A REMARKABLY LOW STANDARD

Science began in Antiquity as a branch of wisdom, and philosophy ( = the love of wisdom) was distinguished from wisdom only by philosophers. Cultivators of science in its early modern times (c. 1600-1800) called themselves philosophers, and their activity was called not science but natural philosophy. What we call today the philosophy of science includes the theories of knowledge (epistemology) and of learning (methodology), as well as the study of the principles of science (metaphysics, the philosophy of nature). The first two disciplines were at the time neglected as they were considered marginal; the third, metaphysics, was deemed distinctly dangerous. Natural philosophers did not consider their work impractical; they called themselves 'benefactors of humanity', as they were convinced that their activities, in addition to their intrinsic merits, will bring peace and prosperity to the whole world. But they insisted that the practical aspects of science, significant as they surely are, can only appear as by-products, not as the outcome of study directed to any goal other than the search for the truth: any other goal will render research biased and so worse than nothing.

It is not that applied science evolves all by itself, as the application of knowledge for practical purposes certainly requires efforts, including research. But the research for any practical purpose need not, it was taken for granted, be a search for knowledge. To make this clear, it may be useful to contrast the classical, typically eighteenth-century view with today's view: today we recognize within science not two but three categories; we recognize basic research in addition to the classical

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Philosophy of Science, Logic, and Mathematics in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • General Editors' Preface vii
  • Acknowledgements xiii
  • Chronology xv
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 8
  • Chapter 1 - Philosophy of Logic 9
  • Bibliography 39
  • Chapter 2 - Philosophy of Mathematics in the Twentieth Century 50
  • Chapter 3 - Frege 124
  • Bibliography 153
  • Chapter 4 - Wittgenstein's Tractatus 157
  • Notes 187
  • Chapter 5 - Logical Positivism 193
  • Bibliography 210
  • Chapter 6 - The Philosophy of Physics 214
  • Bibliography 233
  • Chapter 7 - The Philosophy of Science Today 235
  • Chapter 8 - Chance, Cause and Conduct: Probability Theory and the Explanation of Human Action 266
  • Chapter 9 - Cybernetics 292
  • Bibliography 313
  • Chapter 10 - Descartes' Legacy: the Mechanist/Vitalist Debates 315
  • Notes 366
  • Glossary 376
  • Index 444
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