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Anatoly Terentyev
Anatoly Terentyev

The Modeling Of Nature: Philosophy Of Science A...


As the new millennium approaches, our scientific knowledge of the universe surpasses that of any previous age. Yet, paradoxically, the philosophy of science movement is now in disarray. The collapse of logical empiricism and the rise of historicism and social constructivism have effectively left all of the sciences without an epistemology. The claims of realism have become increasingly difficult to justify, and, for many, the only alternatives are probabilism, pragmatism, and relativism.




The Modeling of Nature: Philosophy of Science a...



Through an ingenious use of iconic and epistemic models, Wallace guides the reader through the fundamentals of natural philosophy, explaining how the universe is populated with entities endowed with different natures-- inorganic, plant, animal, and human. Much of this knowledge is intuitive, already in people's minds from experience, education, and exposure to the media. Wallace builds on this foundation, making judicious use of cognitive science to provide a model of the human mind that illuminates not only the philosophy of nature but also the logic, psychology, and epistemology that are prerequisite to it.


With this background, Wallace sketches a history of the philosophy of science and how it has functioned traditionally as a type of probable reasoning. His concern is to go beyond probability and lay bare the epistemic dimension of science to show how it can arrive at truth and certitude in the various areas it investigates. He completes his study with eight case studies of certified scientific growth, the controversies to which they gave rise, and the methods by which they ultimately were resolved.


William A. Wallace has taught philosophy of science at the University of Maryland since 1988. For twenty-five years prior to that, he taught both the philosophy and history of science at The Catholic University of America. He served with distinction as a naval officer during World War II, following which he entered the Dominican Order, being ordained a priest in 1953. He has published sixteen books and more than three hundred scholarly articles.


William A. Wallace has taught philosophy of science at the University of Maryland since 1988. For twenty-five years prior to that, he taught both the philosophy and history of science at The Catholic University of America. He served with distinction as a naval officer during World War II, following which he entered the Dominican Order, being ordained a priest in 1953. He has published sixteen books and more than three hundred scholarly articles.


The debate over scientific models has important repercussions forother issues in the philosophy of science (for a historical account ofthe philosophical discussion about models, see Bailer-Jones 1999).Traditionally, the debates over, say, scientific realism, reductionism,and laws of nature were couched in terms of theories, because theorieswere seen as the main carriers of scientific knowledge. Once modelsare acknowledged as occupying an important place in the edifice ofscience, these issues have to be reconsidered with a focus on models.The question is whether, and if so how, discussions of these issueschange when we shift focus from theories to models. Up to now, nocomprehensive model-based account of any of these issues has emerged,but models have left important traces in the discussions of thesetopics.


Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science is the world's longest running and best known series devoted exclusively to the philosophy of science. Edited by resident fellows of the Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science (MCPS) since 1956, the series brings together original articles by leading workers in the philosophy of science. The twenty existing volumes cover topics ranging from the philosophy of psychology and the structure of space and time to the nature of scientific theories and scientific explanation.


The goal of the MCPS is to continue producing a volume of Minnesota Studies every two to three years on central topics of broad interest within the philosophy of science. The objective is both to define current debates within the field and to help set the agenda for the future. Many chapters and often entire volumes are now open access (freely available).


  • RECENTLY PUBLISHED (since 2000) "Modeling and measurement: the criterion of empirical grounding". Philosophy of Science 2012. "Logic and the Philosophy of Science" (penultimate draft; publ. Journal of the Indian Council of Philosophical Research 27 (2011), #2 "Rovelli's World". Foundations of Physics 2010. "The Perils of Perrin, at the hands of philosophers" Philosophical Studies 143 (2009): 5-24. "The Representation of Nature in Physics: A Reflection on Adolf Grünbaum's Early Writings", Published in Jokic, A. (ed.) Philosophy of Physics and Psychology: Essays in Honor of Adolf Grünbaum. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Books 2009. "Identity over time: objective, subjective", (with I. Peschard ), published in Philosophical Quarterly, 2008 "How to talk about unobservables" with F.A. Muller. Analysis 68 (2008), 197 - 205. "Representation: the Problem for Structuralism" Philosophy of Science 73 (2006), pp. 536-547. "Structure: its Shadow and Substance" The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (2006)

  • "Science as Representation: Flouting the Criteria" Philosophy of Science 71 (2004), 794-804.

  • "Constructive Empiricism and Modal Nominalism" (2003) (with Bradley Monton) -- Reply to Ladyman. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2003):405-422. "Constructive Empiricism Now" (2001) (APA symposium Albuquerque 2000; Philosophical Studies,106 (2001), pp. 151-170.)

  • Feyerabend Review of Paul Feyerabend, Conquest of Abundance [Times Literary Supplement 5073: June 23, 2000, 10-11.] "The Theory of Tragedy and of Science: Does Nature Have Narrative Structure?" (2000)

  • BEFORE 2000 (alphabetical) "Review: J. Bub, Interpreting the Quantum World Foundations of Physics 28 (1998), 683-689. "From Vicious Circle to Infinite Regress and Back Again (1993)

  • "Interpretation in Science and in the Arts" (with Jill Sigman), pp. 73-99 in G. Levine (ed.) Realism and Representation. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1993. Laws and Symmetry -- synopsis only

  • "The Manifest Image and the Scientific Image" (1999) to skip the abstract, go to "Manifest Image"

  • "Modal Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics" (1991) -- Acrobat version (abridged, modified from Ch. 9 of Quantum Mechanics: an Empiricist View ) "Modal Interpretation of Repeated Measurement: Rejoinder to Leeds and Healey" (1997) -- abstract only

  • "Structure and Perspective: Philosophical Perplexity and Paradox" (1997) to skip the abstract, go to: "Structure and Perspective"

Identity over time: objective, subjective B. van Fraassen and I. Peschard , Go to article in Philosophical Quarterly 2008.In philosophy of science, identity over time emerges as a central concern in two guises: as an ontological category in the interpretation of physical theories, and as a problem in epistemology with respect to the conditions of possibility of knowledge. In Reichenbach's and subsequent writers on the problem of indistinguishable particles in quantum physics we see the return of a contrast between Leibniz and Aquinas on the subject of individuation. The possibility that the principle of the identity of indiscernables can be rejected has certain logical difficulties, which inexorably lead us from ontology into epistemology. For the epistemological problem we must attend to the differences that emerged between the (neo-)Kantian and logical empiricist traditions, also most saliently displayed in Reichenbach's writings. After an examination of the contrast between Kant's and Leibniz' conceptions of empirical knowledge, specifically with respect to the irreducibility of spatio-temporal determinations, we explore an application of a neo-Kantian view to that same problem of indistinguishable particles in physics. Laws and Symmetry Synopsis (book): Laws and Symmetry has three main objectives. The first is to show the failure of philosophical accounts of laws of nature. The second is to undercut the epistemological principles at work in arguments for the reality of laws of nature. The third objective, nearest to my heart, is to be constructive as well, and to contribute to an epistemology and a philosophy of science antithetical to such metaphysical notions as laws of nature. Part One, in which the first objective is pursued, was the main subject of discussion in the symposium to follow. In this Synopsis, therefore, I shall concentrate on that. In my view, as presented in Chapter 1, the concept of a law of nature is an anachronism, its proper life belonging to the 17th and 18th Centuries. Laws of nature played an important role in the philosophical-scientific thinking of Descartes and Newton, and functioned for them as a central clue to the structure of science. At the same time, two developments threatened the status of law. One was the empiricist critique of necessity and causality, notions closely allied to that of law. The other was that science was rapidly gaining autonomy not only from theology but from all of philosophy, and was exploiting concepts and methods foreign to metaphysics. Pre-eminent here is the birth of the symmetry argument. (Discussion of this subject is begun in Chapter 1 and continued in Chapters 10, 11 and 12.) Modern physics argues from symmetry and continuity -- not from universality or necessity, natural kinds or essences, contingency or accident. The concept of a law of nature is a vestigial concept in contemporary science. Chapter 2 collects the cluster of criteria for what laws must be and do, which are honored in the literature to some degree or other. We can divide the criteria to be met by any philosophical account of laws roughly into major requirements and secondary ones. The major criteria concern what I call the problems of inference and identification. The accounts must show that there is a valid inference from what laws there are to what regularities there are in the world. The account must also identify the relevant aspects of the world that constitute or give rise to its laws, if any. Typically these two tasks lead to a dilemma. If laws of nature are identified in terms of some sort of necessity in nature which is simply postulated as fact, then there is no logical reason to think that the inference from lawlike necessity to actuality is valid. (Calling the postulated factor "necessity" or "necessitation" does not help.) If on the other hand the semantic account of law statements is so constructed that the inference in question is logically valid, then typically the truth-conditions of law statements involve something unidentifiable. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 argue that leading contemporary attempts (by David Lewis, David Armstrong, and a host of others) fail to slip between the horns of this dilemma. Nor do they meet secondary criteria, such as showing that what they make out to be laws of nature are the targets reached, or even aimed for, in scientific inquiry. Both Quine and Rorty have, in their different ways, proclaimed the death of epistemology. I think they are right about mainstream traditional epistemology. There Induction has given way to Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) in the epistemology hospitable to realism, or to metaphysics in general. In my view, developed in Part Two, neither Induction nor IBE qualifies as a rational strategy for change of opinion. To that extent at least I endorse some of Quine's and Rorty's conclusions. But it also seems to me that the underground river of probabilism, slowly growing in force over three centuries, has burst forth above ground in the twentieth century and brought new hope for epistemology. In Part Two I argue that with the end of foundationalism, probabilism provides the framework for a new epistemology, which is also adequate for philosophy of science. The remainder of the book (Chapters 8-13) is devoted to contributions to the semantic approach in philosophy of science, to support my call to leave metaphysics behind. The semantic approach does not require an anti-realist or anti-metaphysical stance. In fact it is also followed by philosophers with very different philosophical positions from my own. But that is just the point: this collaboration in philosophy of science is possible because the approach is in itself neutral, and does not presuppose metaphysical views. I will leave the details aside, since the present symposium concentrates on Part One, which was meant to be the destructive prelude to this constructive effort in philosophy of science. For current availability, Laws and Symmetry Go back to top of this page 041b061a72


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