The Advancement of Science: Science without Legend, Objectivity without Illusions

By Philip Kitcher | Go to book overview

Preface

This is the book I have wanted to write ever since I began studying the history and philosophy of science. More exactly, it is concerned with the topics that have interested me the most throughout the past twenty-odd years. The versions of it that I would have produced at different times during that period would have diverged, sometimes quite dramatically, from what I have now written. I suspect, furthermore, that my ideas about the growth of scientific knowledge will continue to evolve. These are not, I hope, my last thoughts about the issues that occupy me. However, I also hope that their formulation will help to stimulate improved thoughts, both for me and for others.

I owe an enormous intellectual debt to two people who taught me when I was a graduate student at Princeton in the early 1970s: C. G. Hempel and Thomas Kuhn. Although my treatment of virtually all the questions I address differs from theirs, I could not have arrived at my own conclusions without their deep insights. I have also been greatly influenced by the writings of Alvin Goldman, Hilary Putnam, and W. V. Quine, all of whom have shaped my ideas in important ways.

I began work on the writing of this book during 1988-89, when I had leave from teaching at the University of California at San Diego. That leave was largely made possible by a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and I am most grateful for the foundation's support. Earlier, the development of my ideas had been aided by the opportunity to serve as codirector of an institute to investigate new consensus in the philosophy of science (held at the University of Minnesota), during which I had the chance to listen to presentations made by many of the world's leading philosophers of science. I would also like to thank the Office of Graduate Studies at the University of California at San Diego for supporting a workshop on naturalizing the philosophy of science.

Many people have read large parts of this book and offered valuable comments on it. I am grateful to John Dupre and Elliott Sober for many philosophical insights, and to Larry and Rachel Laudan for illuminating discussions. Michael Rothschild (of the UCSD Economics Department) provided extensive comments on Chapter 8, which have enabled me to make considerable improvements. From my colleagues Martin Rudwick and Robert Westman I have learned much about the craft of history and about the more

-vii-

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The Advancement of Science: Science without Legend, Objectivity without Illusions
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents *
  • 1 - Legend's Legacy 3
  • 2 - Darwin's Achievement 11
  • 3 - The Microstructure of Scientific Change 58
  • 4 - Varieties of Progress 90
  • 5 - Realism and Scientific Progress 127
  • 6 - Dissolving Rationality 178
  • 7 - The Experimental Philosophy 219
  • 8 - The Organization of Cognitive Labor 303
  • Envoi 390
  • Bibliography 392
  • Index 407
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