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Scientific Pluralism

Scientific Pluralism

Volume: 19
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 272
  • Book Info
    Scientific Pluralism
    Book Description:

    Scientific Pluralism demonstrates the viability of the view that some phenomena require multiple accounts. Pluralists observe that scientists present various—sometimes even incompatible—models of the world and argue that this is due to the complexity of the world and representational limitations. Contributors: John Bell, Michael Dickson, Carla Fehr, Ronald N. Giere, Geoffrey Hellman, Alan W. Richardson, C. Wade Savage, Esther-Mirjam Sent.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9824-0
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: The Pluralist Stance
    (pp. vii-xxx)
    Stephen H. Kellert, Helen E. Longino and C. Kenneth Waters

    In recent years, a number of philosophers as well as some scientists have advanced various forms of pluralism about the theories or methods of science. The general idea is that some natural phenomena cannot be fully explained by a single theory or fully investigated using a single approach. As a consequence, multiple approaches are required for the explanation and investigation of such phenomena. In some cases interest in pluralism is motivated by analysis of particular issues within a science, and in other cases it is motivated by analysis of general philosophical and methodological questions. How pluralism is understood—whether, for...

  4. 1 The Many Unities of Science: Politics, Semantics, and Ontology
    (pp. 1-25)
    Alan W. Richardson

    Within philosophy of science in the 1990s and into the new century, the themes of disunity of science and of pluralism of or regarding science have been prominent. Work such as John Dupré’sThe Disorder of Things(1993), Nancy Cartwright’sThe Dappled World(1999), and the essays collected in Peter Galison and David Stump’sThe Disunity of Science(1996) make this theme evident in their titles. Other works, such as Helen Longino’sThe Fate of Knowledge(2002), endorse or make room for pluralisms of various kinds without wearing such allegiance on their dust covers. Such work often draws on (or...

  5. 2 Perspectival Pluralism
    (pp. 26-41)
    Ronald N. Giere

    In this chapter I explore the extent to which a perspectival understanding of scientific knowledge supports forms of scientific pluralism. I will not initially attempt to formulate a general characterization of either perspectivism or scientific pluralism. I assume that both are opposed to two extreme views. The one extreme is a (monistic) metaphysical realism according to which there is in principle one true and complete theory of everything. The other extreme is a constructivist relativism according to which scientific claims about any reality beyond that of ordinary experience are merely social conventions.

    I begin with an exemplar of perspectival knowledge,...

  6. 3 Plurality and Complementarity in Quantum Dynamics
    (pp. 42-63)
    Michael Dickson

    Any discussion of “pluralism” in science immediately faces (at least) two very difficult problems. The first problem is one of definition: what is pluralism; what does pluralism concern; and what, precisely, is one’s attitude toward the diversity implied by pluralism? If one is a pluralist about some substantial part of science, then the second problem looms large:howcan one be a pluralist about science while respecting the (approximate) validity of our best scientific theories?

    While other essays in this volume speak to these issues at greater length, it is important for me to indicate my general attitude and approach...

  7. 4 Pluralism and the Foundations of Mathematics
    (pp. 64-79)
    Geoffrey Hellman and John L. Bell

    Contrary to the popular (mis)conception of mathematics as a cut-and-dried body of universally agreed-on truths and methods, as soon as one examines the foundations of mathematics, one encounters divergences of viewpoint and failures of communication that can easily remind one of religious, schismatic controversy. While there is indeed universal agreement on a substantial body of mathematical results, and while classical methods overwhelmingly dominate actual practice, as soon as one asks questions concerning fundamentals—such as “What is mathematics about?” “What makes mathematical truths true?” “What axioms can we accept as un problematic?” and notoriously, even “What are the acceptablelogical...

  8. 5 Pluralisms in Economics
    (pp. 80-101)
    Esther-Mirjam Sent

    In 1992, a group of economists issued a “Plea for a Pluralistic and Rigorous Economics” in an advertisement in theAmerican Economic Review,¹ calling for “a new spirit of pluralism in economics, involving critical conversation and tolerant communication between different approaches. Such pluralism should not undermine the standards of rigor; an economics that requires itself to face all the arguments will be a more, not a less, rigorous science.” The announcement had been organized by Geoffrey Hodgson, Uskali Mäki, and D. McCloskey, and signed by forty-four illustrious names including Nobel laureates Franco Modigliani, Paul Samuelson, Herbert Simon, and Jan Tinbergen....

  9. 6 Theoretical Pluralism and the Scientific Study of Behavior
    (pp. 102-131)
    Helen E. Longino

    The social account of scientific knowledge holds that critical interaction is crucial to the epistemic acceptability of scientific content. In this essay I focus on methodological differences in the scientific study of behavior and criticisms that proponents of different approaches direct toward one another. My analysis is based on scrutiny of dozens of papers from four approaches to the study of behavior: behavior genetics, developmental systems theory, neurophysiology and anatomy, and, to the degree it is set up as an alternative to behavior genetics, research on social/environmental factors. I focused on research on two kinds of behavior—aggression and sexual...

  10. 7 A New/Old (Pluralist) Resolution of the Mind-Body Problem
    (pp. 132-166)
    C. Wade Savage

    The identity theory, or thesis, of mind and body holds that the psychological, mental processes of an animal—sensations, perceptions, emotions, images, memories, inferences, thoughts, decisions, and volitions—are identical with physical processes in the animal’s body. The thesis is an element of the more general theory of physicalism, the theory that all empirical phenomena are physical phenomena. Dualism is the competing view that any such psychophysical identity is false, and that mental processes are (at best) merely correlated with physical.¹ The mind-body problem is in reality a cluster of problems that includes the following: Which of the two competing...

  11. 8 Explanations of the Evolution of Sex: A Plurality of Local Mechanisms
    (pp. 167-189)
    Carla Fehr

    Sex represents a pointed challenge to evolutionary theory. On the one hand, sexual reproduction is ubiquitous and abundant; on the other hand, it is incredibly expensive. Imagine two organisms, identical except for the fact that organism A reproduces asexually and organism B reproduces sexually. Organism A will pass its entire complement of genes on to its daughters while organism B passes on only 50 percent. From an evolutionary perspective sex has a twofold cost. This means that for a sexual population to resist invasion by an asexual clone, or for sexual and asexual reproduction to exist concurrently, or for sexual...

  12. 9 A Pluralist Interpretation of Gene-Centered Biology
    (pp. 190-214)
    C. Kenneth Waters

    Genes are at the center of research throughout many of the biological sciences, especially the sciences aimed at explaining what is happening within organisms. I call this “gene-centrism.” The commoninterpretationof gene-centrism, advanced not just by popular writers but also by many scientific leaders, is that genes take center stage because biologists have learned that genes direct all the important developmental and metabolic processes in living systems. It is often reported that genes provide the information, the master plan or the blueprint, for the development of individual organisms. The reason biologists are (and should be) preoccupied with genes, according...

  13. 10 Disciplinary Pluralism for Science Studies
    (pp. 215-230)
    Stephen H. Kellert

    This essay is part of a larger project which examines the phenomenon of “borrowed knowledge.” It is within the context of this larger project that I seek to outline and defend a pluralistic approach within science studies. What do I mean by borrowed knowledge? Consider, for example, that the intense scientific interest in nonlinear dynamics (popularly known as chaos theory) has inspired a number of attempts to draw broad implications for areas usually considered far removed from the physical sciences. In addition to some relatively uncontroversial applications of chaos theory to economics, we find endeavors to unearth strange attractors in...

  14. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 231-232)
    Stephen Kellert, Helen E. Longino and C. Kenneth Waters
  15. Contributors
    (pp. 233-236)
  16. Index
    (pp. 237-248)