Location

Brock University

Document Type

Paper

Start Date

15-5-1997 9:00 AM

End Date

17-5-1997 5:00 PM

Abstract

The thesis of my paper is that argumentation theory provides a promising heuristic framework for addressing issues raised by the rationality debates in the philosophy of science, in particular the issues connected with scientific controversies over the appraisal and choice of competing theories. The first part of the paper grounds this thesis historically. In criticizing the logical empiricists, Thomas Kuhn set the stage for the subsequent opposition between a normative, anti-sociological philosophy of science and a descriptive, anti-philosophical sociology of knowledge. But he also hinted at the main lines of a multi-dimensional theory of argumentation which might frame a wide range of current investigations into scientific reasoning. In the second part of the paper I focus on the central normative aspect of this framework, dialectical argumentation, and clarify the key challenge, the underdetermination of theories by evidence. In the third part, I attempt to get beyond the dichotomy informing the rationality debates by reformulating the problem of theory choice within a broader context of scientific rationality.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

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Marcello Guarini, Commentary on Rehg

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Marcello Guarini, Commentary on Rehg (May 1997)

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May 15th, 9:00 AM May 17th, 5:00 PM

Argumentation Theory and the Recent Philosophy of Science

Brock University

The thesis of my paper is that argumentation theory provides a promising heuristic framework for addressing issues raised by the rationality debates in the philosophy of science, in particular the issues connected with scientific controversies over the appraisal and choice of competing theories. The first part of the paper grounds this thesis historically. In criticizing the logical empiricists, Thomas Kuhn set the stage for the subsequent opposition between a normative, anti-sociological philosophy of science and a descriptive, anti-philosophical sociology of knowledge. But he also hinted at the main lines of a multi-dimensional theory of argumentation which might frame a wide range of current investigations into scientific reasoning. In the second part of the paper I focus on the central normative aspect of this framework, dialectical argumentation, and clarify the key challenge, the underdetermination of theories by evidence. In the third part, I attempt to get beyond the dichotomy informing the rationality debates by reformulating the problem of theory choice within a broader context of scientific rationality.