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Thread: Science, values, and the Truth

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Vancouver, Washington

    Default Science, values, and the Truth

    Here's your daily dose of philosophy......

    Not exactly related to Fisheries Management, but provides grist for the mill, as we have discussed on this BB many times before:

    Courtesy of your friends at National Public Radio.

  2. #2
    New member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    Thumbs up Goos stuff . . .

    Quote Originally Posted by Cohoangler View Post
    Here's your daily dose of philosophy......

    Not exactly related to Fisheries Management, but provides grist for the mill, as we have discussed on this BB many times before:

    Courtesy of your friends at National Public Radio.

    Excellent article, Cohoangler, and thanks for posting it. I especially enjoyed:

    What is the moral? I think it would be a mistake to conclude that a recognition of what Putnam calls the entanglement of fact and value should force us to view science as no better than open-ended moralizing, mere assertions of what "we" think. The upshot, rather, is that we need to elevate our assessment of the nature of conflicts in the domain of value.

    The fact that we lack ways of settling these conflicts once and for all does not mean that there is not progress to be made in thinking them through together.

    This is exactly why it is a mistake to believe our fisheries can be or are managed "scientifically" until we realize that science itself is value-driven.

    Michael Polanyi on the subject:

    All Knowing is Personal

    In his book Science, Faith and Society (1946), Polanyi set out his opposition to a positivist account of science, noting that it ignores the role which personal commitments play in the practice of science. Polanyi was invited to give the prestigious Gifford Lectures in 1951-2 at Aberdeen. A revised version of his lectures were later published as Personal Knowledge (1958). In this book Polanyi claims that all knowledge claims (including those which are derived from rules) rely on personal judgements. He denies that a scientific method can yield truth mechanically. All knowing, no matter how formalised, relies upon commitments. Polanyi argued that the assumptions which underlie critical philosophy are not only false, they undermine the commitments which motivate our highest achievements. He advocates a fiduciary post-critical approach, in which we recognise that we believe more than we can prove, and know more than we can say.

    A knower does not stand apart from the universe, but participates personally within it. Our intellectual skills are driven by passionate commitments which motivate discovery and validation. His writings on the practice of science influenced Thomas Kuhn and Paul Feyerabend. According to Polanyi a great scientist not only identifies patterns, they choose significant questions which are likely to lead to a successful resolution. Innovators risk their reputation by committing to a hypothesis. He gives the example of Copernicus, who declared that the Earth revolves around the Sun. He claims that Copernicus arrived at the Earth's true relation to the Sun not as a consequence of following a method, but via "the greater intellectual satisfaction he derived from the celestial panorama as seen from the Sun instead of the Earth."

    Polanyi rejected the claim by British Empiricists that experience can be reduced into sense data, and rejects the notion that "indwelling" within (sometimes incompatible) interpretative frameworks traps us within them. Our tacit awareness connects us, albeit it fallibly, with reality. It supplies us with the context within which our articulations have meaning. Contrary to the views of his colleague and friend Alan Turing, whose work at The University of Manchester prepared the way for the first modern computer, he denied that minds are reducible to collections of rules. His work influenced the critique by Hubert Dreyfus of "First Generation" Artificial Intelligence.

    It was while writing Personal Knowledge that he identified what he calls the "structure of tacit knowing". He viewed it as his most important discovery. He claimed that we experience the world by integrating our subsidiary awareness into a focal awareness. In his later work, for example his Terry Lectures, later published as "The Tacit Dimension" (1966) he distinguishes between the phenomenological, instrumental,semantic, and ontological aspects of tacit knowing, as discussed (but not necessarily identified as such) in his previous writing.


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