Tuesday, March 3

Meeting 8 (3/10) — Science and Objectivity

For next time, please read Part I of Kitcher's Science, Truth, and Democracy. There are a number of themes that I'll want to focus on. First, there is the realism debate that we barely edged onto today in class: what reason have we to think that our best theories are merely empirically adequate if they concern things that are beyond the reach of direct observation? Kitcher discusses various responses (both homely and sophisticated) that we should attend to.

But the real interest is with his positive, pluralistic proposal in chapters 4-6. Science is the search not for any old truth (nor some obscure notion of 'Truth' with a capital 'T'): rather, it seeks significant truths. But significance is a matter of our aims and interests, about which there may be dispute. Do you find Kitcher's pluralism compelling here? What about his stance on significance?

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