History of Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Science by Thomas J. Hickey

By Thomas J. Hickey

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Duhem’s philosophy differed from Mach’s philosophy by the former’s acceptance of physical theory as integral to physics, and his development of a semantical metatheory to locate theory in Positivist physics. This semantical metatheory served as the basis for a general philosophy of language in the contemporary Pragmatism, and retrospection reveals that it has been his more lasting philosophical contribution. Copyright 1995, 2005 by Thomas J. Hickey MACH AND DUHEM Mach's Phenomenalism Prior to the contemporary Pragmatism philosophers based their philosophies of science on one or another metaphysical viewpoint.

The institutionally regulated activities of research scientists may be described succinctly in a statement of the aim of science, which the contemporary research scientist seeking to maximize his success may employ as what some social scientists call a rationality postulate. The Pragmatist rationality postulate for the practice of research in the empirical sciences is the following statement of the aim of science: Scientists aim to construct explanations by developing theories that satisfy the most critically empirical tests that can be applied at the current time.

Accordingly the more revolutionary the revision of beliefs, the greater the impeding force of the cognition constraint imposed by psychological habit. And if a new syntax is required such as an unfamiliar mathematics, then the semantical restructuring of the affected meaning complexes is even greater. This follows from the relativistic semantics, which is opposed to the thesis that language is neutral in the sense of being merely a passive instrument for thought. It is noteworthy that the use of discovery systems circumvents this problem, because the machines have no linguistic habits; they mechanically apply a generative grammar to inputted linguistic symbols.

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