Philosophy Colloquium Series 2014-2015Export this event to calendar

Friday, September 26, 2014 — 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM EDT

Robert McCauley
Emory University

Four Ways Science Progresses

New Wave reductionists champion a model of intertheoretic relations in science that captures the insights of both the traditional model of reduction and Kuhnian revolutionary science.  New Wave reductionists envision various cases of intertheoretic relations as falling at different points on a continuum of intertheoretic commensurability, for which the traditional and Kuhnian models very nearly define its opposing endpoints.  They also constitute, in effect, the two ways in which science progresses, viz., either by accumulation and consolidation of scientific knowledge via explanatory unification or by the radical displacement of deficient theories in scientific revolutions.  The New Wave picture is, however, insufficiently fine-grained, because it neglects Wimsatt’s distinction between intertheoretic relationships that arise from intralevel (successional) contexts as opposed to those that arise from interlevel (cross-scientific) contexts. Explanatory pluralism countenances four ways science progresses.  In successional contexts within a particular science over time, slow, gradual change—(1) scientific evolution—should be distinguished from rapid, abrupt change—(2) scientific revolution.  Successional contexts should not be confused with cross-scientific settings, which examine the relationships between theories in different sciences at the same time. In cross-scientific settings, high intertheoretic commensurability results in something that approaches (3) classical reduction, vindicating the relevant upper-level theory. Low commensurability, by contrast, reveals divergent theoretical proposals, which, ironically, can occasion both insular declarations about the autonomy of disciplines and the process of (4) theoretical co-evolution.

Location 
HH - J.G. Hagey Hall of the Humanities
Room: 373
200 University Avenue West

Waterloo, ON N2L 3G1
Canada

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