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BOOK REVIEWS 483 Now an articulated framework of philosophical realism, such as offered in Maritain's Degrees of Knowledge, would have enabled Newton-Smith to accommodate a " realist construal of scientific theories " to a method that explains natural phenomena by prediction. Such a framework would surround the valid and fruitful but nonetheless blind instrumentalism of science with the "Seeing Eye" of a realistic philosophy, a philosophy which rationally justifies our knowledge of things as things. The question of the rationality of science is, in the end, a question of epistemology and thus belongs in the domain of philosophical rather than scientific inquiry. It will not do therefore to undertake an inquiry into the rationality of science without a preceding discussion of epistemology and it will do even less to begin the investigation on the premise that philosophy does not have a valid object and method that is distinct from those of science. Newton-Smith is guilty on both counts. Despite the difficulty which I find with his "realist construal of scientific theories," the argument he advances for the rationality of science seems to retain its overall soundness and validity. I therefore stand by my initial commendation of his book. It is an important contribution to the current literature in the philosophy of science. University of Sari Francisco San Francisco, California RAYMOND DENNEHY The Flight from Authority. By JEFFREY STOUT. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame, 1981. Pp. 352. $25. The subject of this book is the assertion that morality is logically or conceptually independent of theoretical and religious positions, that morality is autonomous. The book has basically two arguments against this thesis. First, there is a long historical argument, whose point is supposed to be therapeutic, i.e., it argues that the thesis originated as a response to a problem which is no longer real. Second, the book argues directly against the foundationalist assumption of that thesis. The historical argument is this. Stout claims that by Descartes's time the mediaeval edifice of authority and scientia, as best represented in Aquinas, had crumbled, and that Descartes also philosophized before what St.out (following Ian Hacking) calls "the emergence of probability." That is, he philosophized before the notion of an intrinsic degree of evi1dence less than absolute certainty had arisen-which occurred only in the seventeenth century according to Stout. Unable to fall back on a degree of evidence short of· demonstration, but recognizing that appeals to au- 484 BOOK REVIEWS thority were by now (after the Reformation) futile, Descartes. tried to bolster scientia by seeking secure epistemic foundations.· Theism's troubles began at about the same time, says Stout, with the rise of the idea of intrinsic probability. For Aquinas (and for the mediaevals in general), Stout claims, probability simply consisted in approval by recognized authorities. This situation changed in the seventeenth century, so that less authoritarian mentalities began to question religious dogmas. The new notion of probability created a dilemma for theism: either try to show the intrinsic likelihood of theism or retreat into a subculture, with a demand for blind faith. Trying the first tack produced Deism, but it collapsed under the critical guns of Hume. Stout gives an exposition of Hume's attack on miracles, apparently accepting his definition of a miracle as an "event contrary to the laws of nature." From Hume's definition it follows that the weight of common experience lines up against the testimony for miracles. The upshot is that whereas " for Aquinas questions about the probability of miracle reports handed on by authority were self-answering" (125), a critical scientist would not be disposed to accept them now (he alludes to the Virgin Birth as an example). It was in response to the breakdown of religious authority, Stout argues, that the autonomy of morals was invented in the seventeenth and eig·hteenth centuries. In addition to the emergence of the idea of probability , violent religious disagreements in the sixteenth century, as well as the arrival of Newtonian science (undermining the Aristotelian-Thomist notion of a goal of human nature) produced the need to base morals on·Something other than religious or theoretical positions. Hence Kant faced a crisis in the ethical domain...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 483-489
Launched on MUSE
2017-05-15
Open Access
No
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