Scientific Perspectivism

Scientific Perspectivism

by Ronald N. Giere
     
 

ISBN-10: 0226292126

ISBN-13: 9780226292120

Pub. Date: 11/15/2006

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Many people assume that the claims of scientists are objective truths. But historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science have long argued that scientific claims reflect the particular historical, cultural, and social context in which those claims were made. The nature of scientific knowledge is not absolute because it is influenced by the practice and

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Overview

Many people assume that the claims of scientists are objective truths. But historians, sociologists, and philosophers of science have long argued that scientific claims reflect the particular historical, cultural, and social context in which those claims were made. The nature of scientific knowledge is not absolute because it is influenced by the practice and perspective of human agents. Scientific Perspectivism argues that the acts of observing and theorizing are both perspectival, and this nature makes scientific knowledge contingent, as Thomas Kuhn theorized forty years ago.

Using the example of color vision in humans to illustrate how his theory of “perspectivism” works, Ronald N. Giere argues that colors do not actually exist in objects; rather, color is the result of an interaction between aspects of the world and the human visual system. Giere extends this argument into a general interpretation of human perception and, more controversially, to scientific observation, conjecturing that the output of scientific instruments is perspectival. Furthermore, complex scientific principles—such as Maxwell’s equations describing the behavior of both the electric and magnetic fields—make no claims about the world, but models based on those principles can be used to make claims about specific aspects of the world.

Offering a solution to the most contentious debate in the philosophy of science over the past thirty years, Scientific Perspectivism will be of interest to anyone involved in the study of science.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780226292120
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Publication date:
11/15/2006
Pages:
160
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.70(d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Acknowledgments

1. Scientific Knowledge

What Is the Problem?

Objective Realism

Constructivism

Naturalism

Perspectivism

Retrospect

2. Color Vision
Introduction

Basic Color Science

Color Subjectivism

Color Objectivism

Comparative Color Vision

Color Perspectivism

The Philosophy of Color

A Final Question

3. Scientific Observing
Introduction

Astronomy in Color

Deep Space from the Perspective of the Hubble Telescope

The Milky Way in Gamma Ray Perspectives

Conclusions within Perspectives

Imaging the Brain

Instrumental Perspectives

4. Scientific Theorizing
Introduction

Representing

Theories

Laws of Nature

Fitness

Maps

Truth within a Perspective

Perspectives and Paradigms

Scientific Kinds

Perspectival Realism

The Contingency Thesis Revisited

5. Perspectival Knowledge and Distributed Cognition

Introduction

Distributed Cognition

Scientific Observation as Distributed Cognition

Models as Parts of Distributed Cognitive Systems

Computation in Scientific Distributed Cognitive Systems

Agency in Scientific Distributed Cognitive Systems

Why Distributed Cognition?

Distributed Cognition and Perspectival Knowledge

Notes

References

Index

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