Development of adaptive logics for the study of central topics in contemporary philosophy of science. Towards a new formal philosophy of science

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2001 - 2008 (afgewerkt)



Although it is generally acknowledged that the two most influential research traditions of the twentieth century philosophy of science,---namely the 'logistic' program of the logical positivists (Carnap, Neurath, Schlick, Hempel, Reichenbach) and the 'historicist' program (e.g. Feyerabend, Hanson, and Kuhn)---, have failed in important respects, it is nevertheless an important challenge for contemporary philosophy of science to combine and integrate the correct insights of both programs. What we need is a methodology which is contextual, but nevertheless provides insight into the general mechanisms underlying scientific research. This methodology must on the one hand be formal: only in this way it can be exact and precise. On the other hand it has to incorporate the view that science is basically a problem-solving process. Due to the incomplete and sometimes even inconsistent character of the contextual information that guides actual problem-solving processes, dynamic reasoning patterns are beneficial. Adaptive logics provide an explication of inference patterns which allow for revision and rejection of formerly accepted inferences.

The global aim of this project is to elaborate a formal methodology for central problem fields from philosophy of science: inductive generalization, abduction, scientific explanation, causality, discovery, functional analysis and theory-dynamics. The ultimate goal is that by means of (corrective, ampliative and combined) adaptive logics the methodology would enable one to generate, on the basis of the specific properties of a problem as it appeared in its historical context, a formal problem-solving process that forms an explication for the historical process as it actually took place.