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On the relation between the normative and the empirical in the philosophy of science.

Childers, Timothy (1996) On the relation between the normative and the empirical in the philosophy of science. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science (United Kingdom).

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Abstract

The relation between the normative and the empirical in the philosophy of science is examined by investigating apriori and aposteriori approaches to methodology. The apriori is usually equated with the prescriptive, and the aposteriori with the descriptive. It is argued that this equation is mistaken, and that neither a purely apriori nor a purely aposteriori approach to methodology can succeed. Methodologies based on probability are used as illustrations. Purely apriori and purely aposteriori approaches are examined in Parts I and II respectively. The former are investigated through the intuitionism of J.M. Keynes and the analytic method of Carnap. Dutch Book arguments are also considered as apriori arguments. I conclude that an apriori approach is irredeemably flawed, in that it can never meet the goal it sets for itself of producing a self-evidently justified set of rules for science. Purely aposteriori approaches are investigated in the second Part by focussing on R. Giere's and W.V.O. Quine's proposals for a naturalised epistemology. It is argued that a purely empirical approach is caught on the horns of a dilemma: if it is defended on aposteriori grounds then the argument is circular, and if on apriori grounds it is self-refuting. Thus it is shown that the aposteriori approach too cannot serve as the foundations for methodology. However, I shall argue that Quine's project has been misunderstood, and that in fact Quine argues for aposteriori methodology from conventionalist grounds. The possibility of a conventionalist approach to the philosophy of science which avoids the problems of the purely empirical and of the purely apriori approach is explored in the third Part of this thesis. Karl Popper's early advocacy of such a conventionalist approach is discussed. The final chapter is devoted to showing how certain flaws in Popper's and Quine's conventionalist approaches may be mended. It is concluded that the conventionalist approach to methodology provides an adequate framework for the relation between the normative and the empirical in the philosophy of science.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Philosophy of Science
Sets: Collections > ProQuest Etheses
Departments > Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/2852

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