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HEATHER E. DOUGLAS OCTOBER 22, 2010 BOSTON UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY OF SCIENCE Creating the Disciplinary Space for Philosophy of Science:

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Presentation on theme: "HEATHER E. DOUGLAS OCTOBER 22, 2010 BOSTON UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY OF SCIENCE Creating the Disciplinary Space for Philosophy of Science:"— Presentation transcript:

1 HEATHER E. DOUGLAS OCTOBER 22, 2010 BOSTON UNIVERSITY CENTER FOR PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY OF SCIENCE Creating the Disciplinary Space for Philosophy of Science: A History of the PSA before 1970

2 Something Changed between 1940 and 1970… Philosophers like Carnap, Frank, Reichenbach, Feigl are central to the history of philosophy of science in the 20 th century. But these philosophers were up to something quite different than what philosophers of science thought they were up to by And this shift holds not just for the central players, but also for the now forgotten (Churchman, Malisoff) who led the PSA before 1960.

3 The Scientific Conception of the World: The Vienna Circle (1929) “The Vienna Circle believes that in collaborating with the Ernst Mach Society it fulfills a demand of the day: we have to fashion intellectual tools for everyday life, for the daily life of the scholar but also for the daily life of all those who in some way join in working at the conscious re-shaping of life.” – Hahn, Carnap, and Neurath (emphasis added)

4 The Mission of the PSA 1947: “The objects of this Association are the furthering of the study and discussion of the subject of philosophy of science, broadly interpreted, and the encouragement of practical consequences which may flow therefrom of benefit to scientists and philosophers in particular and to men of good will in general.” 1957: “The objects of this Association shall be the furthering of studies and free discussion from diverse standpoints in the field of philosophy of science, and the publishing of a periodical devoted to such studies in this field.”

5 What changed between 1940 and 1970? Giere (1999): Translocation of philosophers from a Germanic to an American context altered their agendas, and allowed logical empiricism to defeat home grown pragmatism. Howard (2003): Anti-communist sentiments forced a retreat from practical and ethical issues in the philosophy of science. Reisch (2003, 2005, 2007): The unity of science movement, and thus logical empiricism, died from multiple causes including anti- communism, individual deaths, and philosophical disagreements among individuals. Richardson (2007): Logical empiricists still shape our basic understanding of philosophy of science, and Kuhn differed from Carnap only in style, not in substance. Logical empiricism was never defeated. None of these accounts is fully satisfying or fully accords with the historical record.

6 From Movement to Discipline Movement “Scientific Philosophy” “Unity of Science” Goal is outward directed: The reform of thought, and thus society Goal gives some coherence to projects Interdisciplinary– all fellow travelers welcome (log. emp., scientists, pragmatists) Collaborative, energetic Discipline “Philosophy of Science” Well-defined topics, policed boundaries Projects are internally driven Insiders are experts; outsiders are interlopers Still collaborative…

7 Movements in the 1930s Scientific Philosophy: A movement to reform philosophy by eliminating metaphysics and pseudo-problems, generating genuine social and philosophical progress E.g. Logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle, the Society for Scientific Philosophy in Berlin The Unity of Science: A practical outgrowth of scientific philosophy, aiming to unify the sciences to eliminate lingering metaphysics and make them more applicable Who was involved? Logical empiricists (philosophers Carnap, Reichenbach & scientists Frank, Neurath) working with pragmatists (Morris, Dewey) “The most promising movement in the logic of science and scientific philosophy …. Logico-pramatico-empiricism” (Phil. Sci., Morris 1936) Institutional homes in North America in the 1930s: Chicago, Harvard, UCLA, and the journal, Philosophy of Science (1934)

8 The Vienna Circle Anti-metaphysics Collaborative effort Use logic to clarify language Commitment to empiricism Get rid of philosophical pseudo-problems Unified Science Practical societal reform: “The scientific world- conception serves life, and life receives it.”

9 The Unity of Science Movement Organizing Committee:  Carnap, Bridgman, Schlick, Reichenbach, Neurath, Morris, Frank Congresses for the Unity of Science:  Prague (1929), Königsberg (1930), Paris (1935), Copenhagen (1936), Paris (1937), Cambridge UK (1938), Harvard (1939) Encyclopedia for Unified Science proposed by Neurath at 1935 Congress  Subscription advertisements for first two (introductory) volumes out in 1937 in Phil. Sci. and Science  First pamphlets published in 1938

10 Goal of Unified Science Analyze the logical structure of sciences and their relationships Analyze scientific concepts, scientific methods Develop “a unified scientific language” (Phil. Sci. 1937) Ensure that science maintains a commitment to “physicalism” (i.e. empiricism), thus combating metaphysics Not an attempt to “reduce” one science to another, but rather to be able to combine sciences as needed to make real decisions in the world

11 Fluidity in Unified Science Aim was NOT “the system of science” Rather, “what is the maximum of scientific co-ordination” possible? (Neurath 1938) Depending on what the connections between the sciences are, the unified science will develop accordingly. And pursuing unified science should change what our sciences look like. Massive Collaborative Evolving Project  First two introductory volumes (10 pamphlets each, each pamphlet ~ 70 pages) out by 1940  Six more volumes (60 pamphlets) on methods and disagreements concerning how to unify sciences  Eight volumes on the actual state of sciences and their unification  Ten volumes on engineering, medicine, law, and education  Additional volumes on Neurath’s isotype language Neurath’s Plan: Over 30 volumes = 300 pamphlets > 20,000 pages Actually, only the first two volumes published, and not completed until 1960s…

12 Transition to America Encyclopedia published by U. Chicago Press Émigrés (Carnap, Hempel, Reichenbach, Feigl) find jobs in philosophy departments Many American philosophers not enamored with scientific philosophy– it is an obvious threat! But many other American philosophers deeply sympathetic (Nagel, Morris, Dewey) Newly formed PSA an open forum for the logical empiricists to use…

13 Philosophy of Science & the PSA Founded in 1934 by biochemist William Malisoff An interdisciplinary forum for scientists and philosophers Opening editorial: “What is Philosophy of Science?”  “Philosophy of science is the organized expression of a growing intent among philosophers and scientists to clarity, perhaps unify, the programs, methods and results of the disciplines of philosophy and of science.” (Malisoff 1934, 1)  Reveled in contrasting opinions about the relationship between science and philosophy  “A coalition dominated by the unorthodox” (ibid., p. 3) A ready home for the movements of scientific philosophy, logical empiricism, and unified science  Malisoff on the advisory committee to the Encyclopedia by 1937  The PSA (which is Malisoff) co-sponsors the 5 th Congress in 1939

14 Philosophy of Science ( ) 1938: Malisoff is proud that the journal is not the mouthpiece of any one perspective:  “Allowing for a cancellation of prejudices, the editor still has the ever-pressing responsibility of sustaining the positive, liberal program announced in the first issue of the journal, a program satisfactory to a many-hued Editorial Board and to an equally colorful Advisory Board, a program of free discussion or of an open forum conducted in the research spirit of a united front against blindness.” (Malisoff 1938) 1944: With the imminent defeat of fascism, a “new society” is on the horizon, one which the journal should help shape:  “[W]e must make Philosophy of Science itself a model of democracy, an integrating dynamic influence for establishing a universal amity of the sciences. Then, and only then, can we expect the emergence of a supreme science of amity in a warless world.” (Malisoff 1944)

15 PSA in the post-war era 1946: PSA meets at AAAS, drafts by-laws  Malisoff’s paper: “A Program for a Philosophy of Science Movement” 1947: Malisoff dies, by-laws approved, Frank elected first PSA president, Churchman takes over editorship Mission of PSA established as broad interdisciplinary and beneficial to society venture  “The objects of this Association are the furthering of the study and discussion of the subject of philosophy of science, broadly interpreted, and the encouragement of practical consequences which may flow therefrom of benefit to scientists and philosophers in particular and to men of good will in general.” Affiliation with AAAS “official;” PSA meets at AAAS throughout the 1950s Malisoff’s policies for the journal of an open forum maintained by Churchman through 1958

16 PSA at AAAS: “What the Natural Scientist Needs from the Social Scientist” (Chicago, 1947) “Scientific Method and Psychoanalysis” (Cleveland, 1950) “Methodological Issues in Recent Studies of National Character” (Cleveland, 1950) “Logic and the Laws of Nature” (Cleveland, 1950) “The Concept of Value in Science and Philosophy” (Philadelphia, 1951) “Philosophical Problems of Contemporary Biology” (St. Louis, 1952) “Confirmation of Scientific Theories” (St. Louis, 1952) “Validation of Scientific Theories” (Boston, 1953) “Science as a Social Phenomenon” (Boston, 1953) “The Problem of Induction” (Berkeley, 1954) “Problems of Psychology” (Berkeley, 1954) “Sociology of Science” (Atlanta, 1955) “Creativity in Science” (Atlanta, 1955) “Science and Ethics” (New York City, 1956) “Measurement” (New York City, 1956) “Can Science Provide an Ethical Code?” (Indianapolis, 1957)

17 The 1950s PSA changes from an interdisciplinary forum to a disciplinary society Philosophy of science gets defined with clear boundaries (that happen to make it look very apolitical) These boundaries are visibly policed Institutional homes for philosophy of science develop

18 From Movement to Discipline The End of the Movement  Fractures arise in the coalitions of the movement  Logical empiricists vs. pragmatists e.g. Brodbeck 1950: Pragmatism = Naïve scientism  Reichenbach vs. Churchman in 1947  Philosophers vs. scientists  Encyclopedia too ambitious  Scientific philosophers can’t transform all of philosophy  One goal achieved: philosophy as collaborative? Defining Disciplinary Boundaries  Rejected goals, topics include:  Unified Science  Questions of “pragmatics”  Science in society  Science and values  Providing a clear benefit to society Policing Boundaries, Defining Expertise

19 Discipline Creation in the 1950s Goals made more modest  Hard problems of “pragmatics”, values left aside  Conceptual or scholarly tools not available to tackle these tough problems  Why weren’t they developed? Could have built on work of Churchman, Rudner… Science-society issues too risky  Science & Society journal a communist journal  Science planning, science and values issues stink of communism  Apolitical program safer Discipline requires established techniques and expertise  That existed in limited areas– namely in logical analysis of scientific concepts  Puts emphasis on solely epistemological issues  Clear benefits to having disciplinary expertise

20 The Fate of Unified Science Carnap, Morris, and Neurath have substantive philosophical disagreements Neurath dies in 1945 But, there did appear hope for Unified Science in post-War America:  Institute for the Unity of Science reborn in 1947, with Rockefeller Foundation funding, within the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, with Philipp Frank at its head  Officers and Board include Carnap, Feigl, Hempel, Nagel, Quine, and Reichenbach However, Frank’s interests in scientific creativity, discovery, science and values, the social context of science, etc. do not interest the rest of the community. Frank gets few submissions to the publications of the Institute, and almost none that scientists would find interesting or accessible. Institute loses funding by 1955

21 Defining boundaries: Brodbeck 1953 Philosophy of Science is NOT: 1. Studying science as a social activity or the social context of science 2. Examining the ethical questions raised by science 3. Working on metaphysical questions Philosophy of Science is: Explicating the technical language of science in ordinary language, to understand the nature of causality, of scientific laws, of scientific theory, of logical inference used in science, of probability Proper goal: Understanding “the structure and meaning of science itself”

22 Feigl would disagree… Feigl (1956) discerns within logical empiricism “three major trends differing amongst each other more in their method of procedure than in their basic outlook:” 1. Positivist-pragmatist approach (Frank, Neurath, Mach) 2. Analytic approach (Moore and Wittgenstein) 3. Logical reconstruction approach (Carnap, Braithwaite, Reichenbach) -- From “Some Major Issues and Developments in the Philosophy of Science of Logical Empiricism” (1956) in 1st Minnesota volume But it doesn’t matter– Feigl does not actively support the first approach (nor do other major figures), and it languishes. Upshot: Brodbeck’s asserted definition reinforced (e.g., Suppes 1954) and largely adopted. E.g. Giere 1970: “Widespread consensus” = “analysis of scientific concepts”

23 Policing Boundaries: Putnam reviews Frank in Science Review opens with: “I had intended to say that this book was thirty years out of date, but that would not be quite right. There are some references to, and in some cases extended treatments of, contemporary topics scattered throughout the book. It is rather Professor Frank’s knowledge of the issues that concern philosophers of science and the reasons why they concern philosophers of science that is thirty years out of date. Anyone who still thinks that the issue in philosophy of science is between “operational definition” and “metaphysical interpretation” might enjoy reading this book. Afterwards he should learn some real philosophy of science.” (Putnam 1958, emphasis his) Real philosophy of science = Braithwaite, Hempel, Carnap, Feigl & Brodbeck 1953 collection

24 By 1960: Institutional Philosophy of Science Boundary establishment and policing have benefits. Major Centers established: 1953 Minnesota Center for the Philosophy of Science by Herbert Feigl 1960 Pittsburgh Center for the Philosophy of Science by Adolf Grünbaum 1960 Boston Colloquium for the Philosophy of Science by Marx Wartofsky and Robert S. Cohen NSF funding for philosophy of science begins in But, the Institute for the Unity of Science is dissolved in 1971, its assets absorbed by PSA.

25 A changing PSA: PSA in dire financial straits in 1956 Effort to improve the journal, alter the by-laws, and revitalize the PSA started by Nagel in 1956 New by-laws passed in 1957, published in 1958 Mission of PSA becomes disciplinary  “The objects of this Association shall be the furthering of studies and free discussion from diverse standpoints in the field of philosophy of science, and the publishing of a periodical devoted to such studies in this field.”

26 New Direction for the Journal New by-laws place Editorial Board in charge of the journal Churchman resigns as editor of the journal in 1958  President Ducasse to Churchman on the new direction under a new editor:  “The one thing I would insist on, however, in such articles no less than in formalized ones, or methodological or specialized ones, would be competence at least, and preferably, high quality—for such articles, as well as formalized ones, can have this. We should not have half-baked or amateurish stuff; and we should try to have some articles by men of high reputation fairly often.” (emphasis added) Rudner takes on post at the age of 37. He is deeply sympathetic with the views of Churchman and Frank, but is in no position to pursue such an agenda. Editorial board expands (e.g., Brodbeck, Hempel, Grünbaum), adopts more active role. Pace Howard 2003, Rudner was not an anti-communist crusader.

27 PSA in the 1960s Nagel is president Grünbaum is president Meetings organized under other auspices (e.g., sec. L AAAS) First independent (biennial) meeting of the PSA held in Pittsburgh in 1968, organized by Grünbaum. First proceedings of PSA published in 1971  From 2 nd biennial conference held in Oct. 1970, Boston  Published in honor of Carnap, who died Sept  Edited by Roger C. Buck and Robert S. Cohen  Published as vol. VIII in the Boston Series Studies in the Philosophy of Science

28 Movement - Discipline Answering Giere, Howard, Reisch, Richardson: The movement of logical empiricists found a ready home and common cause with the pragmatists for the reform of philosophy and science, until the post-WWII era. The logical analysis of science was central to the socially ambitious projects of these movements. Then, faltering projects, deaths, and divisions among collaborators stalled the movements. In a politically fraught time, with the need for institutional cover and support, the discipline of philosophy of science formed. Ready expertise existed in the logical analysis of scientific concepts. But the disciplinary boundaries were drawn in an overly narrow way, in part because of various cultural pressures. Logical empiricism did fundamentally shape the discipline, but not as a successful movement.

29 The Role of the PSA The changing nature of the PSA reflected these changes in philosophy of science in general Interdisciplinary forum becomes a disciplinary home Philosophy of science gains a clearly defined sense of self, reflected in the activities of the PSA But such a change was not without a price…  Should philosophy of science be relevant? To whom? How?  Why aren’t ethical issues in science part of philosophy of science?  Why don’t we have a full theory of science in society?

30 Conclusion Philosophy of science arose from a movement that was transformed into a discipline, radically altering its self-conception and purpose along the way. With a clearer understanding of philosophy of science’s history, we can better decide how to move forward. There are benefits to being a discipline, but there are artificial constraints from our discipline’s formation that must be dissolved if the field is to achieve its full potential.

31 “Philosopher(s) of Science”

32 “Scientific Philosophers”


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