Institute of Philosophy
of the Russian Academy of Sciences




  2015, Volume 43, Number 1
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2015, Volume 43, Number 1

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Epistemology & Philosophy of Science

2015, Volume 43, Number 1

 

CONTENTS


EDITORIAL

 

Vladimir Porus. From methodological pluralism to a disciplinary organism: the case of psychology 

The article discusses approaches to the problem of “methodological pluralism” in psychology. Instead of hierarchy of “explanation levels”, essentially reduced to a certain fundamental level, the idea of a “topological system” of explanations interconnected in such a way that an experimental refutation of a hypothesis affects not only this hypothesis alone but more generally: the whole system of scientific psychological explanations which could not remain indifferent to such a refutation. Psychology while retaining its methodological pluralism would become a disciplinary organism with uniform “nervous system” reacting on results of empirical research.

Keywords: methodological pluralism, psychological explanation, psychological theory, philosophy of science

 

 

PANEL DISCUSSION

 

Vladislav Lectorsky. Constructivism vs realism

The article attempts to reconcile constructivist and realist positions in epistemology  by proposing the position of the constructive realism. It is shown that contemporary constructivism (especially, social constructivism) is often contradictory and relativism is seen as its specific trait. The position of constructive realism is a kind of realistic position that is based on several approaches to the understanding of cognition, such as “ecological approach” to perception  (J.Gibson) and activity approach (L.Vygotsky, A.Leont’ev, et al.). The “constructive realism” term is not contradictory, because if we say that something is constructed (for example, the Self, personal identity etc.) it doesn’t mean they are not real. The human constructs many objects that get out of his control and start to live their own lives (social institutes, ideal objects etc.), but that doesn’t make them less real. Subjective reality is different from physical reality, but it’s real all the same. Even though it is constructed largely via social communication, it doesn’t mean it cannot be researched as the real thing. Thus, the reality should be regarded as multilevel and multilayer, each level of reality cannot be reduced to another one, but they depend on each other.

Keywords: constructivism, realism, social constructivism, relativism, constructive realism

 

Boris Pruzhinin, Tatiana Schedrina, Elena Trufanova, Sophia Pirozhkova, Vadim Rozin. Discussion of V. Lektorsky’s “Constructivism vs. Realism”

Vladislav Lektorsky’s paper is the text of his talk at the conference “Social Philosophy of Science: Russian Prospects” (Moscow, November 2014). Lektorsky suggests the position of  constructive realism that should reconcile constructivist and realist approaches in epistemology. Five Russian philosophers (Boris Pruzhinin, Tatiana Schedrina, Elena Trufanova, Sophia Pirozhkova, Vadim Rozin) comment on V.Lektorsky’s ideas.

Boris Pruzhinin together with Tatiana Schedrina (following Lektorsky’s steps) argue  the idea that cultural and historical reality is not relative, they show that the nowadays popularity of constuctivism is conneceted with the tendency of “pragmatisation” of theory of knowledge, but they also underline that there are some strong points in radical constructivist position. Elena Trufanova argues that social constructionism (as a version of social constructivism) has some productive ideas concerning understanding of the Self and personal identity in the complicated contemporary social and cultural situation. Sophia Pirozhkova shows the role of constructive realism position in regard to the research of the knowledge about the future. Vadim Rozin defends the constructivist position, arguing that new schemes constructed by philosophers or scientists construct new reality.

Keywords: constructivism, realism, social constructionism, constructive realism, scheme, radical constructivism, knowledge about the future, forward-looking activities

 

 

EPISTEMOLOGY AND COGNITION


Hans Poser. Justification of Justification: The Case of Techno Sciences

A fruitful analysis of the structure of the natural sciences has been carried out by V. Stepin. The leading question of this paper focuses on whether it is possible to use this structure for the techno sciences as well. In order to compare both sides of the argument, I have developed the Basic Rules – a somewhat differing set of commitments for the sciences. These allow discussing the structural elements of a special science and comprise methodological commitments relating to 1. ontology, 2. sources of knowledge, 3. hierarchy of knowledge sources, 4. judicial procedures and 5. normative elements. This enables one to illustrate that a paradigm shift, which Th. Kuhn sees as an irrational conversion, as sees it, rests on a well-founded rational critique of particular elements of these commitments that nevertheless depends on a meta-level argumentation, going back to the world view and finally pleading for truth as a regulative idea. This is the meta-justification of alterations to the basic justification commitments.

Keywords: Stepin, justification, techno science, methodological commitments

 

Lyudmila Mikeshina. Sociology and Epistemology: Exchanging Cognitive Experience

The paper examines modern sociology the experience of which enriches social epistemology and philosophy of science. The problem of a universal, general theory is very hard do deal with, though it had emerged as early as in the epoch of Enlightenment. The paper discusses whether a general theory is possible and a methodological role played in its creation by “middle range theories”, that is the approach proposed by American sociologist R. Merton. The methodological structure of Marxist theory, traditionally seen as “the general theory”, is under critical scrutiny. Another aspect of sociological methodology development is G. Ritzer’s ideas of “an integrated sociological paradigm” and also of “a multiply paradigm science”. This approach is used to analyze “a degree of generality” of sociological theories. J.R. Searle’s interpretation of the nature of facts in social sciences, where facts may get an objective status because of an agreement between members of society, is also discussed. On the whole, the paper comes to the conclusion that philosophical and methodological problems in the cognitive experience of modern sociology are diverse and important.

Keywords: sociology, general theory, middle range theories, multiply paradigm science, fact, R. Merton, G. Ritzer, J. Searle, epistemology

 

Igor Nevvazhay. Complementarity of Constructivism and Realism in Epistemology 

In this paper limitation of alternative concepts of knowledge, constructivism and realism, is analyzed. Necessity of their complementarity is grounded. The core of controversy between constructivism and realism is a belief about “the given”. I follow R. Rorty who considers two meanings of a notion of “the given”: “making” and “finding”. I show that these different meanings of concept of “the given” are connected with different types of subject consciousness activity. Together with intentional ability of consciousness I consider responsive ability. Both abilities were a subject of phenomenological analysis (E. Husserl, A. Reinach, B. Waldenfels). I proof that there are certain connections between intentionality and interpretative function of knowledge, on the one hand, and between responsiveness and expressive function of consciousness, on the other hand. Developing the communicative concept of knowledge I show the meaning of cognitive cycles "interpretation-expression" in the process of knowledge. Consideration of cognitive process as a semiotic one allows to show that interpretation is provided by such kind of basic function of sign as indication, and expression is provided by the other function of sign as substitution, or presentation. I show that complementary of interpretation and expression is a consequence of two processes – finding a name and making a meaning. The conclusion about complementary of interpretation and expression leads to a belief about cognition cultures and their types. I show a place of constructivism and realism in the context of typology of cognition cultures.

Keywords: constructivism, realism, intentionality, responsiveness, interpretation, expression, cognition culture

 

 

LANGUAGE AND MIND

 

Mstislav Kazakov. Does Mary Learn at Least Something New? 

The paper deals with the problem of subjective experience and the problem of knowledge and experience correlation, basing on the thought experiment of Frank Jackson known as “Mary, the neuroscientist”. According to Jackson, the subjective experience of seeing colour (along with having previous knowledge about what is it like – to see colours) adds something new to knowledge we’ve already had. The author disagrees with such a position and conducts another thought experiment which can be called “dreamtown visiting”. The experiment is essentially similar to Jackson’s experiment, but, as it becomes clear, it demonstrates, that we do not get any new knowledge but only get the experience which cannot be converted into knowledge, because there is no way of such a converting (this comes out from author’s conclusions made on the basis of the reflections on the thought experiment). It is also substantiated that, while discussing epiphenomenalism arguments, there shouldn’t be distinction on “know what” and “know how” – in this case we deal with the distinction of knowledge (as a holistic phenomenon) and experience (which can be considered as data, which can either be used in practice or not). In case of Mary, who walks out of her room, she gets new experience, but now an additional knowledge, and this experience has no expression in new ways of representation of visual experience (that already exists) and no practical usage. That is why, to author, epiphenomenalistic arguments in the discussion about human mind are unjustified.

Keywords: philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, knowledge, experience

 

 

CASE-STUDIES – SCIENCE STUDIES

 

Maria Rubets. The Semantics of Scientific Terminology in Chinese (based on the terms of elementary particle physics). The Cognitive aspect

This article highlights the problem of the connection between thought and scientific language. The hypothesis of non-identity of thought-forms in different cultures, expressed in language, and the reflection of the spatial thinking in scientific terminology is tested. Author researches Mandarin language as having a phonetic system and principles of the expression of meaning a lot different from Indo-European languages. The research is concentrated primarily on the terms included in the semantic field of "elementary particle physics" (mainly the names of the particles) as it is a relatively recent field of science which had not had any roots in Chinese culture and did not have indigenous scientific vocabulary. First the author describes the peculiarities of Mandarin phonetic system and syllable structure which hardly let using transcription or transliteration in producing of scientific terms, and also gives the examples of translation and transcription of some western terms and names into Chinese. The author shows different forms of the assimilation of European scientific terminology and also different methods of forming scientific terms in Mandarin language. It is shown, that the terms were translated into Chinese either by loan translation (which sometimes leads to inaccurate reflection of meaning), transcription (only for the terms derived from the names such as “boson” or “fermion”) or the descriptional expression of meaning (such as tachyon, bradyon, luxon). The last one lets produce the terms which reflect the essence of the phenomena more accurately. Also the author shows the connection between scientific terminology and the traditional world view and native Chinese concepts (like “yin” and “yang”). It is concluded that Chinese scientific language tends to be visual and descriptive as much as possible, which in a certain sense indicates the reflection of the spatial thinking in linguistic phenomena.

Keywords: physical terms, Mandarin, spatial thinking, sense-formation, translation, transcription, representation, connotations

 

Vladimir Glebkin. Cultural_Historical Underpinnings of the Research Programs of F. Bacon and R. Descartes

Images of the universe, society and creatures as machines are already to be found in the Early Patristics, and then appear with increasing frequency in an increasing number of contexts during the Middle Ages. The emergence and evolution of such images is caused by the radical transformation of the model of the universe from a self-sufficient cosmos moving and changing its state on its own in antiquity to that of God’s creation with no independent status, put another way, a machine, in medieval culture.

The foundation of Descartes’ philosophy seems to be nicely consistent with the medieval model. Reason likens man to God; hence, it is indeed reason that we should rely on in seeking the true basis for understanding reality. The universe is a set of machines; put another way, the purport of its existence and changes to its state are carried out by its Creator. The human mind can comprehend this purport because it is of the same substance as God. Thus, introspection and deduction are the basic principles of Descartes’ research programme.

Bacon’s research programme is based on radically different underpinnings. An important feature of the hermetic corpus is the idea of the universe as an animated being. Importantly, this is not an exception from Renaissance thought. By addressing Ancient Greek culture, the culture of the Renaissance revives its view of the universe as a living entity performing on its own.

The two paradigms described – medieval (universe as a machine) and Ancient Greek (universe as a self-sufficient entity) – could be seen as originating in two branches in the culture of early Modernity. The former is connected with the treatises of Galileo and Hobbes, and then influences the culture of the Enlightenment; the latter – with the treatises of Spinoza, Copernicus and Bruno, then being later the cause of some important traits of the culture of Romanticism.

Keywords: machine, Renaissance culture, Reformation culture, Bacon, Descartes

 

Sergej Kornilov. The First Global Scientific Revolution and the Formation of the Picture of Reality in Biology in the XVII–XVIII centuries

The Modern Age development of biology studies was closely connected with the General progress of scientific knowledge. Epistemological optimism was based on the results of liquid and solid mechanics researches and the development of wide-applied experimental and inductive methods in physics.  Finding the universal law of the nature and the final explanation for the being became the main research reason. The major philosophers focused their attention on the problem of scientific methods.

 The process of breaking new intellectual grounds on the domain of physical world explanation was successful and the primary goal seemed to be near .

  The rise of so-called “biological reality” during the XVII-XVIII centuries supported the development of theoretical concepts, specific research methods and accumulation of factual material. A range of biological disciplines was founded: systematic and comparative anatomy, embryology, anthropology, physiology of plants and animals, were among them. A number of important discoveries demonstrated the possibilities of  experimental methods in biology. However, the scope of its use was limited. Comparative description remained the main research method. The development of the classification of living organisms contributed to the understanding of the unity of organic world. At the same time some scientific schools, which programs were based on the other ontological and epistemological purposes, were founded. Their supporters believed that the idea of “organisms as machines” leads to a loss of specificity of biological research object. Due to these discussions the problem of the nature science foundations was formulated.

Keywords: The scientific revolution, biology, mechanism, philosophical foundations of science

 

Grigorii Tulchinskii. Science: Ethics and Culture

Usually the impact of the science in the civilization development is identified as scientific-technical progress.  Impact of the science in the moral and culture is important never the less. It is determined by peculiarities of the scientific argumentation, experiences. All of these obvious facts, however, relate only to the first round of correlation ethical themes with modern science. We are talking about the socio-cultural context of perception of science and its results of the society, that is, the ethical factors acting on the outside with respect to the position of science, is not inherent in science itself.

The second round of the ethical issues in relation to science related to the problem of rationality. Post positivism demonstrated the role and importance of the normative, regulatory and valuable moment in the content of theoretical knowledge. In this regard, even the question arose about the different types of scientific rationality and normatively. In this case we are talking about statutory regulators built into the very content of scientific knowledge, internally inherent therein. There is another circle in which there are ethics and science. It is a question of ethics, regulations, acting in the scientific community, to be exact – communities.

There is impossible to get adequate understanding of the genesis of the liberalism, multiculturalism without take into account this role of science.

Keywords: culture, ethics, liberalism, science, subcultures 

 

 

INTERDISCIPLINARY STUDIES

 

Andreas Buller. The Future’s Past That Never Occurred

In the History of historical science, efforts were made to connect the past with the future in one and the same "sense construct", like it is the case in Christian historiography.

Christian historiography has its own forward-looking statements which are proven in the biblical story,  because every future is based  on a "historical way".

This logic was also followed by K. Marx and N. Fedorov, whose models of future are principally based on historical arguments.

In the course of human history,the two philosophers discovered a kind of "intrigue", which reason is due to the humans past and its solution in human future. In the concepts of both philosophers, intrigue  has caused "alienation" of man from his own nature. It also gives meaning and purpose to human history. The purpose of human history exists for both – K. Marx and N. Fedorov- in human emancipation.

Keywords: Analytic Philosophy of History,narrativity and narrative structures,intrigue, alienation of man, disharmony of life

 

Alexander Mishura. Indeterministic Model of Causation in Libertarian Accounts of Free Will 

This paper is devoted to the analysis of indeterministic models of causation in the analytic philosophy of action. At the beginning of this article, I deal with the most common in contemporary debates indeterministic theories authored by Robert Kane, Daniel Dennett, Alfred Mele and Laura Ekstrom. After critical examination of given theories and finding what in my opinion is their main difficulty I provide an alternative account of action. The approach seeks to integrate rationality inside the action itself and not on the specific causal chain preceding it as it became common since famous article of Donald Davidson “Actions, reasons and causes”. I propose to consider action as onotological entity consisting of three parts: 1) goal; 2) mean(s) to achieve goal; 3) teleological relation “for” between 1 and 2. Therefore, “Jim moved his arm to take a cup of tea” has 3 parts 1) taking a cup of teal; 2) Moving Jim’s arm; 3) “for” between 1 and 2. This account of rational action as I expect would escape some long-living paradoxes of causal theory of action. Finally I provide the concept of non-phenomenal will trying to explain some further properties of agency such as its “active” character and to close an explanatory gap between merely thinking about doing something and actually doing. This non-phenomenal will nevertheless is not meant as something necessarily transcendent and extra-natural, on the contrary it could match naturalistic point of view provided by neuroscience.

Keywords: action, indeterminism, libertarianism, free will, causation, causal theory of action

 

Vitaly Pronskikh. Epistemic Disunity of Experimentation in Megascience and Approaches

to its Surmounting 

I consider influence of non-epistemic factors on development of experimental research in Big Science and megascience taking high-energy physics as an example. Stratification of the scientific community to theorists, experimentalists, and instrumentalists in megascience is further analyzed. Examples of competition between experimentalists for limited resources (beam time, buildings), when they strived for re-using their old detectors, which considerably limited their epistemic scopes is discussed. Is it shown that one of the reasons of such competition is the rise of boundary objects in the structure of a scientific experiment as well as related epistemic privileges of certain scientific communities. Approaches to building of a role model of the postmodern experimental community grounded in the epistemic unity of the community based on the interactional expertise are suggested.

Keywords: philosophy of scientific experimentation, Big Science, megascience, boundary object, interactional expertise; high-energy physics

 

 

ARCHIVE 

 

William Whewell. He Philosophy of Inductive Sciences, Founded upon their History. Chapters III-IV

 

 

SUMPOSIUM

 

Valentin Bazhanov. Pragmatic Turn in the Philosophy of Science

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

Petr Kusliy. The Hermeutic Character of Robert Brandom’s Philosophy