On a Straw Man in the Philosophy of Science A Defense of the Received View

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1 On a Straw Man in the Philosophy of Science A Defense of the Received View Sebastian Lutz Theoretical Philosophy Unit Utrecht University The Netherlands July 9 th 2010

2 Perception Assumption Suppe, The search for philosophic understanding of scientific theories (1974): The Received View at all times assumed an axiomatization of scientific theories in first order predicate logic. Also: Thompson: Explanation in the semantic conception of theory structures (1988) Morrison & Morgan: Introduction to Models as Mediators (1999) Van Fraassen: The semantic approach to scientific theories (2000) Hendry & Psillos: How to do things with theories (2007) Frigg & Hartmann: Models in Science (2008) Muller: Reflections on the revolution at Stanford (2010)

3 Perception Criticism: Impracticality Suppes, What is a scientific theory? (1967): Theories [... ] like quantum mechanics [... ] need to use [... ] many results concerning the real numbers. Formalization of such theories in first-order logic is utterly impractical Applied to the Received View by Beatty: What s wrong with the received view on evol. theory? (1980) Suppe: The search for philosophic understanding (1974) Stegmueller: The Structuralist View of Theories (1979)

4 Perception Criticism: Non-standard models Suppe, Understanding scientific theories: An assessment of developments (2000): A general problem [with the Received View] was that the Löwenheim-Skolem theorem implied that [the theory s] models must include both intended and wildly unintended models. Semantic View Van Fraassen: Laws and Symmetry (1989) French & Ladyman: Reinflating the semantic approach (1999)

5 Suppe's sources Carnap: The methodological character of theoretical concepts (1956) Carnap: Beobachtungssprache und theoretische Sprache (1958) Carnap: Philosophical Foundations of Physics. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (1966) Hempel: The theoreticians dilemma (1965) Hempel: Implications of Carnap s Work for the philosophy of science (1963)

6 Carnap in Beobachtungssprache Let the structure of L T be such that it contains a type theory with an infinite series of domains D 0,D 1,D 2, etc.; D n is called n th -level domain. Each variable and each constant belongs to a specific type. Each variable of type n has D n as its domain and each constant of type n refers to an element of D n.

7 Hempel and rst order logic Hempel ( Theoretician s dilemma ) defines measurement terms in observation terms using higher order logic. Hempel ( On the standard conception of scientific theories ) lists axiomatizations acceptable in the Received View: Suppes s axiomatizations in set theory and mathematics which are more powerful than FOL. Woodger s axiomatization of biology ( The technique of theory construction, 1939) Hempel ( On the standard conception of scientific theories ) lists expositions of the Received View: Carnap: The methodological character of theoretical concepts (1956) Carnap: Philosophical Foundations of Physics. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science (1966)

8 Carnap's and Hempel's view of rst order logic Hempel, Implications of Carnap s work (1963): For example, the logical framework might be that of the first-order functional calculus with identity. Hempel, Rudolf Carnap, logical empiricist (1973): [... ] Carnap often stressed that these studies are intended only as the first stage in the development of more comprehensive theories, and that the solutions they offer may well permit of extension to more complex situations.

9 Perception Assumption and criticism Suppes ( Axiomatic methods in science, 1992) about a standard formalization of probability theory: [Only] after stating a group axioms on sets, and another group on the real numbers, [are we] in a position to state the axioms that belong just to probability theory as it is usually conceived. In this welter of axioms, those special to probability can easily be lost sight of. More important, it is senseless and uninteresting continually to repeat these general axioms on sets [... ]. Applied to the Received View by Stegmueller: The Structuralist View of Theories (1979) Muller: Reflections on the revolution at Stanford (2010)

10 Hempel on axiomatizations Hempel s list of axiomatizations in keeping with the received view ( Fundamentals of Concept Formation in Empirical Sciences, 1952): Reichenbach s axiomatization of relativity Von Neumann & Morgenstern Suppes

11 Carnap on axiomatizations Carnap, Foundations of logic and mathematics (1939): Each of the nonlogical calculi [which are applied in science] consists, strictly speaking, of two parts: a logical basic calculus and a specific calculus added to it. The basic calculus could be approximately the same for all those calculi; it could consist of the sentential calculus and a smaller or greater part of the functional calculus as previously outlined. [... ] As the basic calculus is essentially the same for all the different specific calculi, it is customary not to mention it at all but to describe only the specific part of the calculus.

12 Perception Assumption and Criticism Frigg and Hartmann, Models in science (2008): In the narrower sense, a model is an alternative interpretation of a certain calculus [... ]. Proponents of the syntactic view believe such models to be irrelevant to science. [... ] The semantic view of theories [... ] declares that we should dispense with a formal calculus altogether and view a theory as a family of models. Although different version[s] of the semantic view assume a different notion of model [... ] [,] they all agree that models are the central unit of scientific theorizing. Da Costa & French: The model theoretic approach in the philosophy of science (1990) Morrison & Morgan: Introduction to Models as Mediators Muller: Reflections on the revolution at Stanford

13 Two kinds of models Hempel, Aspects of scientific explanation (1965): Theoretical models A theory with more or less limited scope of application involving idealizations. Analogical models Systems with syntactically isomorphic descriptions. Hempel s three uses of analogical models: Intellectual economy Better grasp through familiarity Helpful in the context of discovery

14 Carnap on models Carnap, Foundations of logic and mathematics : It is important to realize that the discovery of a [visual] model has no more than an aesthetic or didactic or at best a heuristic value, but is not at all essential for a successful application of the physical theory. Carnap, Philosophical Foundations of Physics: [I]magine that we are [... ] preparing to state for the first time some theoretical laws about molecules in a gas. [... ] Since we cannot directly observe molecules, we assume their collisions are analogous to those of large bodies [... ]. These are, of course, only assumptions; guesses suggested by analogies with known macrolaws.

15 Suppes on models Suppes ( A comparison of the meaning and uses of models in mathematics and the empirical sciences, 1960) on Kelvin s and Maxwell s efforts to find a mechanical model of electromagnetic phenomena. Without doubt they both thought of possible models in a literal physical sense, but it is not difficult to recast their published memoirs on this topic into a search for set-theoretical models of the theory of continuum mechanics which will account for observed electromagnetic phenomena. Moreover, it is really [... ] the mathematical theory of Maxwell which has proved important, not the physical image of an ether behaving like an elastic solid.

16 Perception Assumption Suppe, The search for understanding : I take it as being reasonably clear from Carnap s and Hempel s writings that they intend their analysis to provide an explication of the concept of a scientific theory. An explication is adequate only if the explicatum denote[s] all the clear-cut instances, and none of the clear-cut noninstances of the explicandum.

17 Perception Criticism Suppe, The search for understanding : Also: Darwin s theory of evolution [... ] most theories in cultural anthropology, most sociological theories about the family [... ] are all such at present that any attempts at axiomatization would be premature and fruitless [... ]. Beatty: What s wrong with the received view on evolutionary theory? (1980)

18 Suppe's criterion of adequacy Carnap, Logical Foundations of Probability (1962): [O]ne might perhaps think that the explicatum should be as close to or as similar with the explicandum as the latter s vagueness permits. However, it is easily seen that this requirement would be too strong, that the actual procedure of scientists is often not in agreement with it, and for good reasons.

19 Hempel on explication Hempel, Problems and changes in the empiricist criterion of meaning (1950): [T]here exists a large class of sentences which are rather generally recognized as making intelligible assertions, and another large class of which this is more or less generally denied. We shall have to demand of an adequate explication that it take into account these spheres of common usage. Hempel, Fundamentals of concept formation (1952): Explications, having the nature of proposals, cannot be qualified as being either true or false.

20 Maxwell and Feigl on ideal language philosophy Maxwell and Feigl, Why ordinary language needs reforming (1961): [W]e see absolutely no reason to believe that examination of ordinary use in the paradigm, normal cases can provide us with definitive rules for proper use in the unusual and novel cases. [... ] Furthermore and this is of crucial importance consideration of atypical cases often points up possible inadequacies and may suggest improvements in our conceptualization of the normal cases.

21 Hempel's examples of explications Hempel, Valuation and objectivity in science (1983) Explication plays an important role in analytic philosophy, where it has often been referred to as logical analysis or rational reconstruction. All the accounts proposed by analytic empiricists for such notions as verification, falsification, confirmation, inductive reasoning, types of explanation, theoretical reduction, and the like are instances of explication.

22 The status of the Received View Hempel, On the standard conception of scientific theories (1970): [T]he standard construal [... ] was intended [... ] as a schematic explication that would clearly exhibit certain logical and epistemological characteristics of scientific theories. Feigl, The orthodox view of theories: Remarks in defense as well as critique (1970): [T]he orthodox view of scientific theories can help in clarifying their logico-mathematical structure, as well as their empirical confirmation (or disconfirmation).

23 The Received View as a special case Possibly: The Received View is the first stage in the development of more comprehensive frameworks for explication (cf. Carnap on first order logic). Carnap, Über die Aufgabe der Physik (1923): To determine the direction that physics should take on any level, the fiction of a completed construction of physics can be of great help, as it were, as a target at infinite distance.

24 The received view was not meant as a precisification of theory, but as a framework in which to analyze theories. Carnap and Hempel only dismissed analogical models as necessary conditions for explanation and understanding. Neither Carnap, Hempel, nor Feigl demanded exhaustive axiomatization. Neither Carnap, Hempel, nor Feigl allowed only first order logic.

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