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Member Since 03 Sep 2005
Offline Last Active May 31 2006 11:18 PM

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Fact/Value Dichotomy

14 April 2006 - 11:14 PM

Critical analysis of Putnam's essay Beyond the Fact/Value Dichotomy


The main target of this essay is to disprove a common notion that distinct between facts and moral values. According this notion, facts and values are totally different kinds. Facts can be objective tested, but values as opposed, are subjective matter, and by that an objective value judgment is impossible.
Putnam says, that "There is no neutral conception of rationality to which one can appeal when the nature of rationality is itself what is at issue". Even so, relativism is self-contradicted, by that it can't disprove that notion. Relativism faults are: a pretension to claim from a neutral stand, and by same time to deny the existence of such stand. Difficulty to recognize boundaries between the cultures. Difficulty to recognize the relation of one man to one culture.

Putnam asks to reject that notion by the following grounds:
1. The theological ground – That distinction is a kind of religious revelation that says – indeed universe is an "uncaring machine" as science teach us, but at least we are sophisticated enough to know that, and by that, to know that "our fathers were fools to think otherwise, and that everything they believed and cherished was a lie, or at best superstition". Science is the redeemer, and acknowledge our wisdom, is our consolation.

2. The empiric ground – There are facts that make us sadness or joy. By that, there are facts that we are not free to attribute them any values we want to. The value is already attached to those facts. E.g. the mass starvation and the totalitarianism. Putnam admits that in some respect, the universe physics is a “machine,” and that it is not “caring”, but this is not all the picture, there are researches that prove the powerlessness of science to search all aspects of universe. "what the universe of physics leaves out is the very thing that makes the universe possible for us".

3. The rational ground
a. If coherence, simplicity, and efficacy are values, and "if we cannot deny without falling into total self-refuting subjectivism that they are objective… then the classic argument against the objectivity of ethical values is totally undercut". Science is impossible without recognition that some values are objective. Denying that there are objective values cut off science fundamentals. Putnam adds, that there is no difference in kind between those "cognitive" values that science can't deny there objectivity, and the moral values, like kindness and goodness, those are claimed to bee subjective. If the firs are objective, so are the last. All values, include those that are fundamental for science, are not physical objects and so they are not ruled by precise syntactic laws. If values like kindness and goodness are subjective, so are coherence, consistence, justification, trueness, efficiency and simplicity. If so, so science works on subjective ground.
b. "Any conception of rationality… must embrace much that is vague, ill-defined, no more capable of being “scientized” than was the knowledge of our forefathers". If not, so philosophy, linguistics, mentalistic psychology, history, clinical psychology, and so on, are denied.

Therefore, Putnam call to recognize that all values, include cognitive values "derive their authority from our idea of human flourishing and our idea of reason. These two ideas are interconnected: our image of an ideal theoretical intelligence is simply a part of our ideal of total human flourishing".

(That's a first part of two parts paper I'm writing about Putnam's essay. The second one, the analysis, has not been written yet, but I have a general idea what I'm going to do. Because the paper will be submitted in English, grammar and spelling comments are welcome too).


12 March 2006 - 09:51 AM

'Incommensurability' is a big word in Kuhn's theory, like Popper's ''demarcation', and Quines and Feyerabend's 'underdetermination'. By 'big word' I mean, that the way we interpret that word, influence the way we understand the all theory that  word belongs to.
Today, I'm not reading ' Incommensurability', the way I've done on my first reading of  'structure of scientific revolutions'. I want to discuss about this word.

Kuhn's book, 'structure of scientific revolutions' is revolutionary, not just by the innovations in it, but because Philosophy of science and philosophy at all, have been changed radically since the book has published. That book supply drive to relative and constructionist notions. Realistic notions are getting "softness" to be settled with Kuhn's claims. Kuhn disagree that his book approach relative or constructionist notions.

Kuhn's theory is that history of science is not continuous, but separated to periods. The movement from one period to the next is revolutionary. And that mean that there is a conceptual gap between the scientific periods, and it's impossible to draw a continuity between scientific claims of one period to those who follow it. By that, the value of scientific truths is period dependent, say, contextual. If so, history of science is no history of progress. at least, not necessarily. A surround theory follows the historical theory, between the various scientific disciplines there is a conceptual gap. Basically every one of them has different taxonomy. For that, it's impossible to merge them to one methodical system. Scientist from different periods or different disciplines are talking different languages.

For that conceptual gap, Kuhn uses the term incommensurability. If the gap is understood as absolute gap, so Kuhn, as leaving in some specific period, can't claim any valid claim about texts that were written in other periods, and by that, his book is nonsense. Thus, we can't understand that gap between periods as absolute. Somehow there must be some conceptual continuity between periods, or some meta-understanding that let us understand old texts despite we don't live there. But this understanding must be balanced by understanding the difference between old days and now, and that means to understand that a text that was written in some period, has been written in the conceptual world of this same period and it relate to that. If so, there is no  sense to understand Kuhn 'incommensurability' as absolute, but as relative.
In an 1990 article, Kuhn ask to refine the term:


"Incommensurability is a notion that for me emerged from attempts to understand apparently nonsensical passages encountered in old scientific texts.  Ordinarily they had been taken as evidence of the author’s confused or mistaken beliefs.  My experiences led me to suggest, instead, that those passages were being misread: the appearance of nonsense could be removed by recovering older meanings for some of the terms involved, meanings different from those subsequently current." (http://www.compilerp...ucture 1990.htm)
By this section the term has limited function – to suggest the possibility, that what is interpreted till now as errors of the author of an old text, might be a misreading of the text, caused by misunderstanding the contextual aspect that this text was written at. Later in this article, Kuhn justify 'Incommensurability' between scientific disciplines, as it permits the progression of science . By that, Incommensurability is not limited to warning from misinterpretation, but is a component in Kuhn's suggested scientific view. In any case, Kuhn doesn't claim for absolute misunderstanding between periods or disciplines. So, Incommensurability has to be understood as a relative term.
If so, it is acceptable to adopt Kuhn's distinction between scientific disciplines or periods, and the meaning about understanding that rise from that distinction, but it must be emphasize that there is no absolute gap between those. There is no strict and sharp border between them. If there was, so we have no way to say something general about them.

The historic aspect of the experiment

23 October 2005 - 12:13 PM

If we agree, that there is a problem to treat historic evidences as facts, because we are not in that historic time and place, so we can't treat any experiment that ocure in time and place. At the end point of the experiment, the point of conclusion, obviously we are not at the start point of the experiment, the point that establish the experiment. If we can do so, so the same way we can treat history.

Hypothesis & confirmation

03 September 2005 - 08:39 PM

Hi everybody. I'm new here.
I'm at the first step on a paper for Philosophy of science seminar.
You are wellcome to join me, or tip me or disturb me.

Here's the sketch for the research:

Hypothesis & confirmation

If the goal is empiricism, so:
• The model “hypothesis & confirmation”, is not the only possible model.
• It is not the best one for every research
• more research models, will gives us more empiric fortune.

Research question:
Is it the model “hypothesis & conformation” a must & sufficient for any research?
Could be research models that don’t use the terms confirmation/disconfirmation, validation/falsification, success/failure?

Possible research course:
1. Searching texts that critic this model, &/or suggest alternative models
2. Analysis of research reports, in intention to find:
         2.1. Cases that a research does not managed under the traditional model (as a act or by declare)
       2.2. Cases that could be acted under alternative model
3. Empiric observation on a research at work & analysis of the observed under alternative model
       3.1. The above wile discussing the procedure & alternative models with the observed scientist
      4. Development of an alternative model, suggesting that model to scientists from several disciplines & analysis there remarks.

Research question:
•Could be an alternative research models. So the model : “hypothesis & conformation”, is not a must. There are (or could be) researches that alternative models are (or could be) more fruitful, on empirical reason.
• As long as the model “a research that answer a research question” is equivalent to “hypothesis & conformation”, this research is unnecessary narrowed. There must be a way to interpret “a research that answer a research question” as not equivalent to “hypothesis & conformation”.

I'v translate the above from hebrew, might be I don't use the terms correctly. But I hope the principle is understood.

Have a nice weekend