Karela Fry

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The duh of philosophy

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The New York times introduces Philip Kitcher as "John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. He is the author of several books, including The Ethical Project and the forthcoming Deaths in Venice, and is a co-author of Philosophy of Science: A New Introduction". Prof. Kitcher writes a well-researched and terribly mistaken article in NYT:

That Newtonian vision remains highly popular with many scientists who turn philosophical in their later years and announce their dreams of a final theory. Yet, since the 19th century — since Darwin, in fact — that has not been a convincing picture of how the sciences make their advances. Darwin did not supply a major set of new principles that could be used to derive general conclusions about life and its history: he crafted a framework within which his successors construct models of quite specific evolutionary phenomena.

In the first part of Principia, called De Motu Corporum, Newton wrote about the laws of motion: laws which, he thought, are applicable to all movements. We can use the words of Prof. Kitcher, to explain what Newton accomplished: "he crafted a framework within which his successors construct models of quite specific" motions: including the elliptic orbits of planets and the hyperbolic orbits of comets, and also the bounce of a football off the bars of a goalpost. Darwin’s theory was spectacular, perhaps a challenge to some views of science, but broke no new philosophical ground in this particular sense.

Is this symptomatic of a problem with the philosophy of science, or some philosophers of science? I cannot figure this out.


Written by Arhopala Bazaloides

September 16, 2013 at 5:10 pm

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