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6 – Future-orientation of scientific – Induction, corroboration, prognosis

Seminar / Seminar

This seminar will investigate in depth two separate, but related issues linked to its title. First, we consider the following long-running, and still controversial, question within philosophy of science. A theory is formulated and turns out to predict some phenomenon that is not already known to occur, but which is observed later (that is, in the future compared to the time of the theory’s original formulation). The theory also explains a range of phenomena that were already known to occur when it was first formulated. Does the former – successful prediction – carry some extra confirmatory weight for the theory compared to the latter – successful ‘accommodation’? If so, why? If not, why have so many scientists and philosophers believed that successful prediction is somehow epistemically special? This ‘prediction versus accommodation’ issue has close links with two more general and central issues concerning science. (a) The rationality of science: can theory change in science be explained, as for example Popper believed, as a fully rational process? Or is it, as many Kuhnians believe, a process to be explained purely sociologically without resort to any supposed rules of rationality or logic? And (b) the question of scientific realism: is the – perhaps uniquely – reasonable thing to believe about the theories currently accepted in the ‘mature’ sciences that they are true or at any rate approximately true? The prediction versus accommodation debate is ancient. Its more recent history stems from the disagreement over the issue between John Stuart Mill in his System of Logic and William Whewell in his Philosophy of the Inductive Sciences> Later contributions include Imre Lakatos’s “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes” (in his Philosophical Papers, volume 1) and other work within the Popper-Lakatos tradition. The most central recent contributions, as well as papers explaining the connection of this debate to the issues of rationality and realism, are listed in the readings for the first three meetings of the seminar. The second main topic concerns the future of philosophy of science itself, that is, the future of the whole process of studying scientific cognition. A important movement that has gained substantial ground in recent years is that of naturalism – the idea that science should itself be studied in a scientific, ‘naturalistic’ way, one that draws on insights from cognitive science, from biology and other empirical disciplines. This movement is often associated with quite different analyses of scientific theories, and of observation in science than those provided by “traditional” philosophers of science such as Popper, and the logical empiricists. Clearly a naturalistic approach also has important implications for the issues of how to explain theory-change in science and of scientific realism. An early account of this new movement can be found in R.N. Giere Explaining Science: A Cognitive Approach , 1988. And excellent background to the issues confronted in our seminar is provided by R.N. Giere Science without Laws 1999 and references therein. Detailed Seminar topics and readings: 1. Prognosis and Corroboration I: Bayesianism and the Problem of Old Evidence. John Worrall Reading: (a selection will be made from the following): C. Glymour Theory and Evidence chapter 3 J.Earman Bayes or Bust? C.Howson and P. Urbach Scientific Reasoning: the Bayesian Approach C. Howson “Fitting your Theory to the Facts” in Wade Savage (ed): Scientific Theories. M.L.G. Redhead ‘ Novelty and Confirmation’ British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 1986 2. Prognosis and Corroboration II: The Role of Successful Prediction in Theory-Acceptance. John Worrall Reading: Deborah Mayo Error and the Growth of Experimental Knowledge , Chapter 8 John Worrall ‘New Evidence for Old’ in P.Gardenfors et al (eds) Proceedings of the IUHPS Conference, Krakow 1999 (forthcoming and to be distributed) 3. Prognosis and Corroboration III: Predictive Success, the “Miracle Argument’, and Scientific Realism. John Worrall Reading: Hilary Putnam Reason, Truth and History, 1981. Alan Musgrave ‘The Ultimate Argument for Scientific Realism’ in R. Nola (ed): Relativism and Realism in Science, 1988. John Worrall “Structural Realism: the Best of Both Worlds?” in D. Papineau (ed) Philosophy of Science, 1995. 4. New Approaches to Scientific Cognition I: Perspectival Realism and Scientific Observation. Ronald Giere. Backgound Reading: R.N. Giere Science without Laws, 1999 Reading; Paper to be distributed. 5. New Approaches to Scientific Cognition II: Perspectival Realism and Scientific Theorizing. Ronald Giere. Reading; Paper to be distributed. 6. New Approaches to Scientific Cognition III: Scientific Cognition and Distributed Cognition. Ronald Giere. Reading; Paper to be distributed.


Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota
Professor of Philosophy of Science, London School of Economics

Ph.D. Ronald N. GIERE

Professor of Philosophy at the University of Minnesota

1963 M.S. in Physics at Cornell University
1968 Ph.D. in Philosophy at Cornell University
1966-1987 Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the Indiana University
1971-1972 New York University
1982-1983 University of Pittsburgh
1987-1996 Director of the Minnesota Center for Philosophy of Science
1997-1998 the National Humanities Center. RTP. Tri Delta Fellow


Professor of Philosophy of Science, London School of Economics

1968-1971British Academy Postgraduate Scholarship
1974-1983 Co-Editor, then Editor, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
1975-1978 Managing Editor of the posthumous works of Imre Lakatos.
1982-1983 Senior Research Fellowship, Pittsburgh Center for Philosophy of Science
1984-1988 National Organising Committee, 1988 World Congress of Philosophy
1990-1993 Director, LSE Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science
1993- Co-Director, LSE Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science
1996-1998 Subject Editor for Philosophy of Science, Routledge Encyclopaedia of Philosophy
1998 Program Committee, Philosophy of Science Biennial Meeting, Kansas City
1996-1999 Member, Management Committee, Lakatos Award
2000-2001 Evans Williams Visiting Fellowship, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
1999 Chairman, Management Committee, Lakatos Award
1968-1971 British Academy Postgraduate Scholarship
1982-1983 Senior Research Fellowship, Pittsburgh Center for Philosophy of Science
2000-2001 Evans Williams Visiting Fellowship, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand


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Kategorie: all PlenarySeminar
Genre: all PanelSeminar

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