Tuesday, 5 October 2010
Towards a New Epistemology of Science
Samuel Schindler,Visiting Fellow (CPS)
University of Konstanz, Philosophy
12:05 pm, 817R Cathedral of Learning
Abstract: In the philosophy of science one generally assumes that the issue of theory-confirmation can clearly be separated from the issue of data reliability. This project will try to undermine this view by means of the notion of ‘theory-driven data reliability judgements’, which says that theories with certain properties significantly influence decisions made by scientists about whether experimental data are to be deemed reliable or not. The project will try to corroborate this thesis by means of case studies from the history of science. In particular, it will be argued that the postulation and acceptance of undetected error sources lends crucial support to the main thesis of this project. The project will furthermore inquire whether the following consequences can be drawn from the main thesis and the historical case studies: 1. theoretical virtues like elegance, simplicity, and unifying power of explanations weigh much more heavily in theory-choice than generally believed; 2. maximal explanatory power, and not empirical adequacy (or truth), should not be regarded as the normative first aim of science; 3. a well-known major conceptual problem of scientific realism is aggravated by the considerations of this project.