Perspectives on Science

Perspectives on Science
Volume 10, Number 1, Spring 2002



    Richards, Richard C.
  • Kuhnian Values and Cladistic Parsimony
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    Subject Headings:
    • Kuhn, Thomas S. Objectivity, value judgment and theory choice.
    • Science -- Philosophy.
    • Biology -- Classification.
    • Evolution (Biology) -- Philosophy.
      According to Kuhn, theory choice is not governed by algorithms, but by values, which influence yet do not determine theory choice. Cladistic hypotheses, however, seem to be evaluated relative to a parsimony algorithm, which asserts that the best phylogenetic hypothesis is the one that requires the fewest character changes. While this seems to be an unequivocal evaluative rule, it is not. The application of the parsimony principle is ultimately indeterminate because the choice and individuation of characters that figure in parsimony computations are indeterminate. The cladistic approach is Kuhnian because the application of parsimony depends on persuasion, background, training and tradition.
    Hamilton, Kelly Ann.
  • Darstellungen in The Principles of Mechanics and the Tractatus: The Representation of Objects in Relation in Hertz and Wittgenstein
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    Subject Headings:
    • Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 1889-1951. Tractatus logico-philosophicus.
    • Hertz, Heinrich, 1857-1894. Principien der Mechanik.
    • Logic, Symbolic and mathematical.
    • Language and languages -- Philosophy -- History -- 20th century.
    • Mechanics, Analytic.
      Ludwig Wittgenstein's conception of the role of objects in our philosophical understanding of the logic of our language is critical for his early philosophy in the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. While the important connections between Heinrich Hertz's Principles of Mechanics and Wittgenstein's Tractatus have long been recognized, recent work by Jed Buchwald has deepened our knowledge of the importance of the object-orientation of Hertz's scientific work in a manner that should also deepen our understanding of the nature of objects in the Tractatus. I will argue that there are important ontological links, involving "a certain physical scheme, one that had powerful implications for thinking as well as doing," between Hertz's work and Wittgenstein's early philosophy.
    Gissis, Snait, 1945-
  • Late Nineteenth-Century Lamarckism and French Sociology
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    Subject Headings:
    • Lamarck, Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de, 1744-1829.
    • Evolution (Biology) -- Philosophy -- History -- 19th century.
    • Durkheim, Emile, 1858-1917.
    • Sociology -- France -- Philosophy -- History -- 19th century.
      The transfer of modes of thought, concepts, models, and metaphors from Darwinian and Lamarckian evolutionary biology played a significant role in the mergence, constitution, and legitimization of sociology as an autonomous discipline in France at the end of the nineteenth century. More specifically, the Durkheimian group then came to be recognized as "French sociology." In the present paper, I analyze a facet of the struggle among various groups for this coveted status and demonstrate that the initial adherence to and subsequent abandonment of "the biological" played an important, but complex, role in the outcome of that struggle. Furthermore, the choice of biological model, whether Darwinian or Lamarckian, had repercussions on one's position in that cultural field. The outcome of the "battle" between René Worms' group that supported and contributed to the Revue Internationale de Sociologie (RIS) on the one hand, and Emile Durkheim's group and those committed tothe L'Année Sociologique (AS) on the other—from which the Durkheimians emerged victorious—was due not only to internal scientific factors, but also to a particular juxtaposition of developments within sociology and anthropology and their relation to and interaction with French culture and politics at large.

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