Mathematics plays a central role in much of contemporary science, but philosophers have struggled to understand what this role is or how significant it might be for mathematics and science. Pincock tackles this perennial question by asking how mathematics contributes to the success of our best scientific representations.
This text examines issues related to the way modelling and simulation enable us to reconstruct aspects of the world we are investigating. It also investigates the processes by which we extract concrete knowledge from those reconstructions and how that knowledge is legitimated.
This is the second volume of Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy. Since its revival in the 1970s political philosophy has been a vibrant field in philosophy, one that intersects with jurisprudence, normative economics, political theory in political science departments, and just war theory. OSPP aims to publish some of the best contemporary work in political philosophy and these closely related subfields. This volume features eight papers and an introduction. The papers address a range of central topics and represent cutting edge work in the field. They are grouped into three main themes: ideal theory, the moral assessment of states, and issues in social reliations.
Bas C. van Fraassen presents an original exploration of how we represent the world. Science represents natural phenomena by means of theories, as well as in many concrete ways by such means as pictures, graphs, table-top models, and computer simulations. Scientific Representation begins with an inquiry into the nature of representation in general, drawing on such diverse sources as Plato's dialogues, the development of perspectival drawing in the Renaissance, and the geometric styles of modelling in modern physics. Starting with Mach's and Poincaré's analyses of measurement and the 'problem of coordination', van Fraassen then presents a view of measurement outcomes as representations. With respect to the theories of contemporary science he defends an empiricist structuralist version of the 'picture theory' of science, through an inquiry into the paradoxes that came to light in twentieth-century philosophies of science. Van Fraassen concludes with an analysis of the complex relationship between appearance and reality in the scientific world-picture.
This book is an account of modeling and idealization in modern scientific practice, focusing on concrete, mathematical, and computational models. The main topics of this book are the nature of models, the practice of modeling, and the nature of the relationship between models and real-world phenomena. In order to elucidate the model/world relationship, Weisberg develops a novel account of similarity called weighted feature matching.
In Systematicity, Paul Hoyningen-Huene answers the question "What is science?" by proposing that scientific knowledge is primarily distinguished from other forms of knowledge, especially everyday knowledge, by being more systematic. "Science" is here understood in the broadest possible sense, encompassing not only the natural sciences but also mathematics, the social sciences, and the humanities. The author develops his thesis in nine dimensions in which it is claimed that science is more systematic than other forms of knowledge: regarding descriptions, explanations, predictions, the defense of knowledge claims, critical discourse, epistemic connectedness, an ideal of completeness, knowledge generation, and the representation of knowledge. He compares his view with positions on the question held by philosophers from Aristotle to Nicholas Rescher. The book concludes with an exploration of some consequences of Hoyningen-Huene's view concerning the genesis and dynamics of science, the relationship of science and common sense, normative implications of the thesis, and the demarcation criterion between science and pseudo-science.
Commonwealth Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Knowledge and Data Paul Humphreys,Paul Humphreys
Author: Commonwealth Professor of Philosophy and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Knowledge and Data Paul Humphreys,Paul Humphreys
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Category: Philosophy and science
This handbook provides both an overview of state-of-the-art scholarship in philosophy of science, as well as a guide to new directions in the discipline. Section I contains broad overviews of the main lines of research and the state of established knowledge in six principal areas of the discipline, including computational, physical, biological, psychological and social sciences, as well as general philosophy of science. Section II covers what are considered to be the traditional topics in the philosophy of science, such as causation, probability, models, ethics and values, and explanation. Section III identifies new areas of investigation that show promise of becoming important areas of research, including the philosophy of astronomy and astrophysics, data, complexity theory, neuroscience, simulations, post-Kuhnian philosophy, post-empiricist epistemology, and emergence. Most chapters are accessible to scientifically educated non-philosophers as well as to professional philosophers, and the contributors - all leading researchers in their field -- bring diverse perspectives from the North American, European, and Australasian research communities. This volume is an essential resource for scholars and students.
Philosophy of science studies the methods, theories, and concepts used by scientists. It mainly developed as a field in its own right during the twentieth century and is now a diversified and lively research area. This book surveys the current state of the discipline by focusing on central themes like confirmation of scientific hypotheses, scientific explanation, causality, the relationship between science and metaphysics, scientific change, the relationship between philosophy of science and science studies, the role of theories and models, unity of science. These themes define general philosophy of science. The book also presents sub-disciplines in the philosophy of science dealing with the main sciences: logic, mathematics, physics, biology, medicine, cognitive science, linguistics, social sciences, and economics. While it is common to address the specific philosophical problems raised by physics and biology in such a book, the place assigned to the philosophy of special sciences is much more unusual. Most authors collaborate on a regular basis in their research or teaching and share a common vision of philosophy of science and its place within philosophy and academia in general. The chapters have been written in close accordance with the three editors, thus achieving strong unity of style and tone.
It is widely acknowledged that a central aim of science is to achieve understanding of the world around us, and that possessing such understanding is highly important in our present-day society. But what does it mean to achieve this understanding? What precisely is scientific understanding? These are philosophical questions that have not yet received satisfactory answers. While there has been an ongoing debate about the nature of scientific explanation since Carl Hempel advanced his covering-law model in 1948, the related notion of understanding has been largely neglected, because most philosophers regarded understanding as merely a subjective by-product of objective explanations. By contrast, this book puts scientific understanding center stage. It is primarily a philosophical study, but also contains detailed historical case studies of scientific practice. In contrast to most existing studies in this area, it takes into account scientists' views and analyzes their role in scientific debate and development. The aim of Understanding Scientific Understanding is to develop and defend a philosophical theory of scientific understanding that can describe and explain the historical variation of criteria for understanding actually employed by scientists. The theory does justice to the insights of such famous physicists as Werner Heisenberg and Richard Feynman, while bringing much-needed conceptual rigor to their intuitions. The scope of the proposed account of understanding is the natural sciences: while the detailed case studies derive from physics, examples from other sciences are presented to illustrate its wider validity.
What is temperature, and how can we measure it correctly? These may seem like simple questions, but the most renowned scientists struggled with them throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. In Inventing Temperature, Chang examines how scientists first created thermometers; how they measured temperature beyond the reach of standard thermometers; and how they managed to assess the reliability and accuracy of these instruments without a circular reliance on the instruments themselves. In a discussion that brings together the history of science with the philosophy of science, Chang presents the simple eet challenging epistemic and technical questions about these instruments, and the complex web of abstract philosophical issues surrounding them. Chang's book shows that many items of knowledge that we take for granted now are in fact spectacular achievements, obtained only after a great deal of innovative thinking, painstaking experiments, bold conjectures, and controversy. Lurking behind these achievements are some very important philosophical questions about how and when people accept the authority of science.
Our thoughts are meaningful. We think about things in the outside world; how can that be so? This is one of the deepest questions in contemporary philosophy. Ever since the 'cognitive revolution', states with meaning - mental representations - have been the key explanatory construct of the cognitive sciences. But there is still no widely-accepted theory of how mental representations get their meaning. Powerful new methods in cognitive neuroscience can now reveal information processing in the brain in unprecedented detail. They show how the brain performs complicated calculations on neural representations. Drawing on this cutting-edge research, Nicholas Shea uses a series of case studies from the cognitive sciences to develop a naturalistic account of the nature of mental representation. Unlike previous treatments, the focus is firmly on the 'subpersonal' representations that pervade so much of the cognitive sciences. The diversity and depth of the case studies, illustrated by numerous figures, make this book unlike any previous treatment. It is important reading for philosophers of psychology and philosophers and mind, and of considerable interest to researchers throughout the cognitive sciences. This is an open access title available under the terms of a CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 International licence. It is free to read at Oxford Scholarship Online and offered as a free PDF download from OUP and selected open access locations.
This book gives a coherent and unified presentation of a new direction of work in philosophy of mathematics. This new approach in philosophy of mathematics requires extensive attention to mathematical practice and provides philosophical analyses of important novel characteristics of contemporary (twentieth century) mathematics and of many aspects of mathematical activity-such as visualization, explanation, understanding etc.-- which escape purely formal logicaltreatment.The book consists of a lengthy introduction by the editor and of eight chapters written by some of the very best scholars in this area. Each chapter consists of a short introduction to the general topic of the chapter and of a longer research article in the very same area. Theeight topics selected represent a broad spectrum of the contemporary philosophical reflection on different aspects of mathematical practice: Diagrammatic reasoning and representational systems; Visualization; Mathematical Explanation; Purity of Methods; Mathematical Concepts; Philosophical relevance of category theory; Philosophical aspects of computer science in mathematics; Philosophical impact of recent developments in mathematical physics.
Non-Causal Explanations in Science and Mathematics
Author: Marc Lange
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Not all scientific explanations work by describing causal connections between events or the world's overall causal structure. Some mathematical proofs explain why the theorems being proved hold. In this book, Marc Lange proposes philosophical accounts of many kinds of non-causal explanations in science and mathematics. These topics have been unjustly neglected in the philosophy of science and mathematics. One important kind of non-causal scientific explanation is termed explanation by constraint. These explanations work by providing information about what makes certain facts especially inevitable - more necessary than the ordinary laws of nature connecting causes to their effects. Facts explained in this way transcend the hurly-burly of cause and effect. Many physicists have regarded the laws of kinematics, the great conservation laws, the coordinate transformations, and the parallelogram of forces as having explanations by constraint. This book presents an original account of explanations by constraint, concentrating on a variety of examples from classical physics and special relativity. This book also offers original accounts of several other varieties of non-causal scientific explanation. Dimensional explanations work by showing how some law of nature arises merely from the dimensional relations among the quantities involved. Really statistical explanations include explanations that appeal to regression toward the mean and other canonical manifestations of chance. Lange provides an original account of what makes certain mathematical proofs but not others explain what they prove. Mathematical explanation connects to a host of other important mathematical ideas, including coincidences in mathematics, the significance of giving multiple proofs of the same result, and natural properties in mathematics. Introducing many examples drawn from actual science and mathematics, with extended discussions of examples from Lagrange, Desargues, Thomson, Sylvester, Maxwell, Rayleigh, Einstein, and Feynman, Because Without Cause's proposals and examples should set the agenda for future work on non-causal explanation.
Mathematics and logic have been central topics of concern since the dawn of philosophy. Since logic is the study of correct reasoning, it is a fundamental branch of epistemology and a priority in any philosophical system. Philosophers have focused on mathematics as a case study for general philosophical issues and for its role in overall knowledge- gathering. Today, philosophy of mathematics and logic remain central disciplines in contemporary philosophy, as evidenced by the regular appearance of articles on these topics in the best mainstream philosophical journals; in fact, the last decade has seen an explosion of scholarly work in these areas. This volume covers these disciplines in a comprehensive and accessible manner, giving the reader an overview of the major problems, positions, and battle lines. The 26 contributed chapters are by established experts in the field, and their articles contain both exposition and criticism as well as substantial development of their own positions. The essays, which are substantially self-contained, serve both to introduce the reader to the subject and to engage in it at its frontiers. Certain major positions are represented by two chapters--one supportive and one critical. The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Math and Logic is a ground-breaking reference like no other in its field. It is a central resource to those wishing to learn about the philosophy of mathematics and the philosophy of logic, or some aspect thereof, and to those who actively engage in the discipline, from advanced undergraduates to professional philosophers, mathematicians, and historians.
How is that when scientists need some piece of mathematics through which to frame their theory, it is there to hand? What has been called 'the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics' sets a challenge for philosophers. Some have responded to that challenge by arguing that mathematics is essentially anthropocentric in character, whereas others have pointed to the range of structures that mathematics offers. Otávio Bueno and Steven French offer a middle way, which focuses on the moves that have to be made in both the mathematics and the relevant physics in order to bring the two into appropriate relation. This relation can be captured via the inferential conception of the applicability of mathematics, which is formulated in terms of immersion, inference, and interpretation. In particular, the roles of idealisations and of surplus structure in science and mathematics respectively are brought to the fore and captured via an approach to models and theories that emphasize the partiality of the available information: the partial structures approach. The discussion as a whole is grounded in a number of case studies drawn from the history of quantum physics, and extended to contest recent claims that the explanatory role of certain mathematical structures in scientific practice supports a realist attitude towards them. The overall conclusion is that the effectiveness of mathematics does not seem unreasonable at all once close attention is paid to how it is actually applied in practice.
"Philip Kitcher's Science, Truth and Democracy joins generosity to argument. Throughout, Kitcher remains engaged with reason as he tries to understand, critically, the positions of realists, creationists, empiricists, and constructivists."--Peter Galison, Mallinckrodt Professor of the History of Science and of Physics, Harvard University
Author: Henk W. de Regt,Sabina Leonelli,Kai Eigner
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Pre
To most scientists, and to those interested in the sciences, understanding is the ultimate aim of scientific endeavor. In spite of this, understanding, and how it is achieved, has received little attention in recent philosophy of science. Scientific Understanding seeks to reverse this trend by providing original and in-depth accounts of the concept of understanding and its essential role in the scientific process. To this end, the chapters in this volume explore and develop three key topics: understanding and explanation, understanding and models, and understanding in scientific practice. Earlier philosophers, such as Carl Hempel, dismissed understanding as subjective and pragmatic. They believed that the essence of science was to be found in scientific theories and explanations. In Scientific Understanding, the contributors maintain that we must also consider the relation between explanations and the scientists who construct and use them. They focus on understanding as the cognitive state that is a goal of explanation and on the understanding of theories and models as a means to this end. The chapters in this book highlight the multifaceted nature of the process of scientific research. The contributors examine current uses of theory, models, simulations, and experiments to evaluate the degree to which these elements contribute to understanding. Their analyses pay due attention to the roles of intelligibility, tacit knowledge, and feelings of understanding. Furthermore, they investigate how understanding is obtained within diverse scientific disciplines and examine how the acquisition of understanding depends on specific contexts, the objects of study, and the stated aims of research.
Generality is a key value in scientific discourses and practices. Throughout history, it has received a variety of meanings and of uses. This collection of original essays aims to inquire into this diversity. Through case studies taken from the history of mathematics, physics and the life sciences, the book provides evidence of different ways of understanding the general in various contexts. It aims at showing how collectives have valued generality and how they have worked with specific types of "general" entities, procedures, and arguments. The books connects history and philosophy of mathematics and the sciences at the intersection of two of the most fruitful contemporary lines of research: historical epistemology, in which values (e.g. "objectivity," "accuracy") are studied from a historical viewpoint; and the philosophy of scientific practice, in which conceptual developments are seen as embedded in networks of social, instrumental, and textual practices. Each chapter provides a self-contained case-study, with a clear exposition of the scientific content at stake. The collection covers a wide range of scientific domains - with an emphasis on mathematics - and historical periods. It thus allows a comparative perspective which suggests a non-linear pattern for a history of generality. The introductory chapter spells out the key issues and points to the connections between the chapters.
The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology contains exciting new essays written to introduce the reader to one of the most vibrant areas of scholarship today. The handbook covers the history of the topic, moves through evolutionary theory, continues with discussions of molecular biology and ecology, and covers biology and ethics as well as biology and religion. There is no better way of learning about this dynamic subject than through the essays in this volume.
The new field of experimental philosophy has emerged as the methods of psychological science have been brought to bear on traditional philosophical issues. Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy is the place to go to see outstanding new work in the field. It features papers by philosophers, papers by psychologists, and papers co-authored by people in both disciplines. The series heralds the emergence of a truly interdisciplinary field in which people from different disciplines are working together to address a shared set of questions. This second volume in the series is divided into three sections that explore epistemology, moral and political philosophy, and metaphysics and mind.