Smoke And Mirrors

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Realism is an enlightening story, a tale which enriches our experience and makes it more intelligible. Yet this wonderful picture of humanity's best efforts at knowledge has been badly bruised by numerous critics. James Robert Brown in Smoke and Mirrors fights back against figures such as Richard Rorty, Bruno Latour, Michael Ruse and Hilary Putnam who have attacked realist accounts of science.
But this volume is not wholly devoted to combating Rorty and others who blow smoke in our eyes; the second half is concerned with arguing that there are some amazing ways in which science mirrors the world. The role of abstraction, abstract objects and a priori ways of getting at reality are all explored in showing how science reflects reality.
Smoke and Mirrors is a defence of science and knowledge in general as well as a defence of a particular way of understanding science. It is of interest to all those who wish or need to know how science works.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780415091817
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 2/3/1994
  • Series: Philosophical Issues in Science Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 216
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Table of Contents

1 Explaining the success of science 3
Miracles, Darwin and 'the truth' 5
The Darwinian answer 6
Realism and reference 8
Realism and verisimilitude 10
Is hypothetico-deductivism the problem? 13
Fine's ontological attitude 15
Why truth matters (a little) 18
Narrative explanations 21
2 Rorty's Solidarity 29
Unforced agreement 29
Russell's promiscuity 31
Kuhn 33
From God to Gauss 34
Arguments and pictures 39
3 Latour's prosaic science 41
4 The naturalism of Ruse 60
Naturalism and evolution 60
Epistemology 61
Ethics 67
Evidence 70
5 Putnam's verification 78
Putnam's pilgrimage 78
Truth and rational acceptability 79
Defining realism 81
Internal realism 83
Natural kinds 84
Relativism 85
A final note 88
6 Knowledge - in the abstract 91
Laws of nature 91
Knowledge of laws 98
Causal empiricism 100
EPR and the Bell results 102
The upshot 110
The argument so far 112
Thought experiments 113
7 Phenomena 117
Phenomena and data 117
Phenomena and natural kinds 125
Diagrams 128
Phenomena and values 130
Thought experiments 131
Phenomena and inference 133
The structure of data 136
Feynman diagrams 138
Concluding remarks 140
8 What is the vector potential? 142
9 Proof and truth in the abstract realm 160
Proofs 163
The later methodology 172
Definition and ontology 173
Afterword 184
Notes 185
Bibliography 189
Index 196
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