Dennett on philosophy-free science


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2 responses to “Dennett on philosophy-free science

  1. Thanks for this interesting and useful contribution Rafe. It sounds like Popper would not agree that there is any such thing as philosophy-free science either. Dennett is obviously responding to recent criticisms of philosophy by some prominent scientists such as Krauss, Hawking and DeGrass Tyson.


  2. Hence the value of Popper’s theory of metaphysical research programs!

    The theory of metaphysical research progams (MRPs) can be seen as the keystone of the arch of Popper’s thought and it is most regrettable that it appeared so late in the day because it helps to understanding the themes that unify Popper’s whole system of thought. The theory of MRPs flows from the idea that we should look at the history of a subject, and its current status, in terms of its problem situations.

    From the Metaphysical Epilogue to the third volume of The Postscript to The Logic of Scientific Discovery.

    “In science, problem situations are the result, as a rule, of three factors. One is the discovery of an inconsistency within the ruling theory. A second is the discovery of an inconsistency between theory and experiment – the experimental falsification of the theory. The third, and perhaps the most important one, is the relation between the theory and what may be called the “metaphysical research programme”.

    “By raising the problems of explanation which the theory is designed to solve, the metaphysical research programme makes it possible to judge the success of the theory as an explanation. On the other hand, the critical discussion of the theory and its results may lead to a change in the research programme (usually an unconscious change, as the programme is often held unconsciously, and taken for granted), or to its replacement by another programme. These programmes are only occasionally discussed as such: more often, they are implicit in the theories and in the attitudes and judgements of the scientists.”

    Liked by 1 person

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