From owner-bhaskar@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU Sat Aug 2 22:25:51 1997 Received: (from domo@localhost) by jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU (8.8.5/8.6.6) id WAA29884 for bhaskar-outgoing; Sat, 2 Aug 1997 22:25:31 -0400 X-Authentication-Warning: jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU: domo set sender to using -f Received: from ( []) by jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU (8.8.5/8.6.6) with SMTP id WAA27831 for <>; Sat, 2 Aug 1997 22:25:25 -0400 Received: from by (5.x/SMI-SVR4) id AA23412; Sat, 2 Aug 1997 20:24:47 -0600 Received: by (SMI-8.6/SMI-SVR4) id UAA23953; Sat, 2 Aug 1997 20:16:25 -0600 Date: Sat, 2 Aug 1997 20:16:25 -0600 Message-Id: <> From: Hans Ehrbar <> To: bhaskar@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU Subject: BHA: rts2-31 Sender: owner-bhaskar@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU Precedence: bulk Reply-To: bhaskar@jefferson.village.Virginia.EDU ============================================ Chapter 3. The Logic of Scientific Discovery ============================================ 1. INTRODUCTION: ON THE CONTINGENCY OF THE CAUSAL CONNECTION In Chapter 2 I assumed the existence of a body of knowledge and asked how it could be applicable to the world. My particular concern was to establish its universality (transfactuality). I now want to turn to the question of how such knowledge, given that it is transfactually applicable to the world, comes to be produced; and in particular to the question of how law-like statements come to be established as necessary. My concern shifts here then from the synchronic to the diachronic aspects of science, and in particular to the question of how, in the social activity of science, natural necessity comes to be ascribed. In the course of this chapter I will consider to what universality and necessity is properly ascribed, and what must be the case for these ascriptions to be possible. In order to show how the concept of natural necessity is possible I will need to turn from a critique of the ontology of closed systems to a critique of the ontology of atomistic events that implies it; and hence from a critique of the idea of the actuality of the causal connection to a critique of the idea of its contingency. In Chapter 4 I will ask what accounts for the assumption of the atomicity of the events conjoined that entails a closed system and generates, in its wake, a host of philosophical problems. The connection between my concerns in this and the preceding chapter is clear. For once an ontology of atomistic events is constituted, it follows that, for general knowledge to be possible, events must be always conjoined (under appropriate descriptions) and never connected.1 That is, order in the world must consist 1 This is the ontological form of Hume's doctrine that events `seem conjoined, but never connected'. See D. Hume, *An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding*, p. 74. 144 A Realist Theory of Science of an unfailing or invariant order of the co-existence of events in space and their succession in time. Conversely once it is appreciated that events, though caused (and consisting in transformations), are very rarely conjoined, it can be seen why order in the world must be pitched at a level categorically distinct from events. Now I have argued in effect that we produce conjunctions to discover connections and apply connections in a world of non-conjunctions; so that events, though rarely conjoined, are sometimes connected. In this chapter I want to consider the nature of the connection that holds between events (when it does) and the nature of the necessity implicit in the concept of law. I will thus be shifting my attention from the differentiation of the world as such to the nature of the stratification that, if we are to render intelligible the experimental establishment and practical application of our knowledge, it implies. Science attempts, I will argue, in its essential movement, to capture the stratification of the world. In order to describe this movement I will need to reconstitute the other dimension of the Copernican Revolution in the philosophy of science, viz. the transitive (or sociological) dimension in which men come, in their social activity, to acquire knowledge of the enduring and transfactually acting mechanisms of nature, in virtue of which some but not other sequences of events are necessarily connected and some but not other statements are universally applicable. The idea that there are no necessary connections between matters of fact occupies an analogous position in underpinning the doctrine of the contingency of the causal connection, as the idea that there are always descriptions for events such that the formula `whenever this, then that' applies does in underpinning the doctrine of its actuality. And I will argue that just as for science to be possible the world must be open; so there must be necessary connections between matters of fact, if science is to be possible. In Chapters 1 and 2 I have shown how the intelligibility of the activities of the experimental establishment and the practical application of our knowledge presupposes the categorical independence of causal laws from the patterns of events, and how causal laws must be given an ontological basis in the enduring and transfactually active mechanisms of nature. Modern transcendental idealist philosophies of science, which The Logic of Scientific Discovery 145 are perhaps more influenced by Wittgenstein than Kant, stop at what is in effect the second stage of a dialectic or process of discovery in science, by refusing to allow (or inadequately interpreting) the possibility of a realist interpretation of theory. Thus there is in science a characteristic kind of dialectic in which a regularity is identified, a plausible explanation for it s invented and the reality of the entities and processes postulated in the explanation is then checked. This is the logic of scientific discovery, illustrated in Diagram 3-1 below. If the classical Result/regularity events; sequences; invariances (1) *classical empiricism* | | | generative | mechanisms v model-building in models | | +--+-----------------------+ / \ | (3)- - <- - - - - - - - - - - - -(2) *transcendental idealism* real empirical-testing imagined/imaginary *transcendental realism* Diagram 3.1. The Logic of Scientific Discovery empiricist tradition stops at the first step, the neo-Kantian tradition sees the need for the second. But it either denies or does not draw the full (transcendental realist) implications of the third step. If and only if the third step is taken can there be an adequate rationale for the use of laws to explain phenomena in open systems (where no constant conjunctions prevail) or for the experimental establishment of that knowledge in the first place. Just as transcendental realism differentiates itself from empiricism by interpreting the first stage of the dialectic as the invariance of a *result* rather than that of a *regularity*, so it differentiates itself from transcendental idealism in its interpretation of the second stage. Both transcendental realism and idealism see the move from (1) to (2) as involving creative model-building, in which plausible generative mechanisms are *imagined* 146 A Realist Theory of Science to produce the phenomena in question. But whereas for transcendental idealism the imagined mechanism is *imaginary*, for realism it may be *real*, and come to be established as such. What is imagined may be real; but what is imaginary cannot. `Imaginary/real' marks an ontological watershed; `imagined/ known to be real' an epistemic one. Now what is imagined at t_1 may come at t_2 to be known to be real. And for transcendental realism the move from (2) to (3) involves experimental production and control, in which the reality of the mechanisms postulated in the model are subjected to empirical scrutiny. For transcendental realism that some real things and generative mechanisms *must* exist can be established by philosophical argument (their existence, and transfactual activity, is a condition of the possibility of science). But it is contingent and the job of substantive science to discover which ones actually do. That is, it is the task of science to discover which hypothetical or imagined mechanisms are not imaginary but real; or, to put it the other way round, to discover what the real mechanisms are i.e. to produce an adequate account of them. Science is a process-in-motion. It involves three distinct stages, which cannot be omitted or collapsed into one another without doing tremendous violence to our understanding of science. But these stages cannot be identified with moments of chronological time; they are phases of science. It should be noted that the move from (1) to (2) just because it involves the postulation of novel entities and processes cannot be given a deductive interpretation. But given this it can only be justified in a non-pragmatic way if we hold out the possibility of a realist interpretation of some of the hypothetical entities etc. invoked to explain the behaviour. Such an interpretation can in turn only be justified empirically if it is set in the context of the ongoing social activity of science. Thus it is in the planning of future experiences rather than in the ordering of present ones or the memory of past ones that our rational and empirical `faculties', `whose unkind and ill-starred divorce' Bacon saw as responsible for all the confusion in `the affairs of the human family',2 are most productively combined. It is only, I shall argue, if we allow the possibility of the move from (2) to (3) that we can, in the end, uphold the legitimacy of 2 F. Bacon, *Novum Organum*. The Logic of Scientific Discovery 147 the move from (1) to (2). Moreover it is only if we begin to see science in terms of *moves* and are not mesmerized by terminals that we can give an adequate account of science. In this respect much philosophy is still in the same position as a Martian trying to discover what trams are but able only to observe them in open-air museums with children scrambling over them. It is the task of the philosophy of science to capture science's essential movement, not to guess its eventual destination. Recent work in the philosophy of science has established (i) the fact of scientific change and (ii) the poverty of a purely deductivist analysis of explanation. In this way it has done much towards the establishment of a conception of science as a critical social activity. The case for transcendental realism can, however, be strengthened by considering the limitations of this work. For unless these two insights are taken together and a new ingredient is added to the existing philosophical mix they are, I think, vulnerable to positivist counter-attack. This new ingredient must be in the field of ontology. The argument of Chapter 1 enables us to see why this is so. For the logical empiricism against which recent philosophy of science has reacted contained not only an account of science, but (implicitly) an account of reality, of the world known by science. And it is in this unacknowledged ontological legacy that the weaknesses of both developments lie. My aim in this chapter and the next is to pinpoint these weaknesses. And to show in particular why and how an adequate non-empiricist account of science, capable of accommodating the facts of scientific change and structure, requires an ontology of the kind outlined in Chapter 1 and elaborated in Chapter 2. Indeed, recent philosophy of science illustrates very well the kind of `ontological tension' that can occur when a fundamental objection is made to a philosophical theory without simultaneously questioning that theory's ontology. The general difference between recent philosophy of science and transcendental realism could be summed up by saying that whereas recent philosophy has asked merely what are the conditions of the possibility of individual experience and found an answer in the intersubjective world of science, transcendental realism asks in addition for the conditions of the possibility of the social activity of science, finding an answer in the intransitive world of things. 148 A Realist Theory of Science I will need in this chapter not only to show the necessity for the philosophical ontology of transcendental realism, but also to begin the development of the philosophical sociology that I argued in 1.6 is presupposed by any theory of science. Scientific development, I have argued so far, consists in the transformation of social products, antecedently established items of knowledge, which may be regarded as Aristotelian material causes. Certain implications flow from this conception. First, that men never construct their knowledge from scratch. It stands to them always as a given product, a social transmit;3 which they must themselves reproduce or partially transform. The Copernican Revolution in the transitive dimension of the philosophy of science thus has the profound implication that man never *creates*, but only *changes*, his knowledge, with the cognitive tools at his disposal. Secondly, what is to be changed, has first to be acquired. And what is acquired consists always of an *ensemble* of theoretical and empirical ideas, so that knowledge can never be analysed out as a function of individual sense-experience. Once this is grasped the grounds for the atomistic ontology that generates the idea of the contingency of the causal connection collapse. Science then is an ongoing social activity which pre-exists any particular generation of scientists and any particular moment of consciousness. Its aim is the production of the knowledge of the independently existing and transfactually active mechanisms of nature. Corresponding to the criterion developed in the intransitive dimension of the philosophy of science, viz. the conceivability of a world without men, we thus have a criterion in the transitive dimension, namely the inconceivability of knowledge without antecedents. --- from list --- .