General Philosophy of Science: Focal Issues (Handbook of the Philosophy of Science)
# Hardcover: 680 pages#
Publisher: North Holland; 1 edition (August 20, 2007)#
Scientists use concepts and principles that are partly specific for their subject matter, but they also share part of them with colleagues working in different fields. Compare the biological notion of a ‘natural kind’ with the general notion of ‘confirmation’ of a hypothesis by certain evidence. Or compare the physical principle of the ‘conservation of energy’ and the general principle of ‘the unity of science’. Scientists agree that all such notions and principles aren’t as crystal clear as one might wish.An important task of the philosophy of the special sciences, such as philosophy of physics, of biology and of economics, to mention only a few of the many flourishing examples, is the clarification of such subject specific concepts and principles. Similarly, an important task of ‘general’ philosophy of science is the clarification of concepts like ‘confirmation’ and principles like ‘the unity of science’. It is evident that clarfication of concepts and principles only makes sense if one tries to do justice, as much as possible, to the actual use of these notions by scientists, without however following this use slavishly. That is, occasionally a philosopher may have good reasons for suggesting to scientists that they should deviate from a standard use. Frequently, this amounts to a plea for differentiation in order to stop debates at cross-purposes due to the conflation of different meanings.