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Argument, Inquiry, and the Unity of Science Kevin T. Kelly

Summary: Argument, Inquiry, and the Unity of Science
Kevin T. Kelly
Department of Philosophy
Carnegie Mellon University
November 28, 2008
Ockham's razor impels scientists to seek ever greater unity in nature. That seems to
saddle science with a metaphysical presupposition of simplicity that might be false.
The objection is apt if scientific method is understood as a system of inductive logic
or proof, for then the unity of science must, somehow, function as an unjustified
premise in scientific arguments. But if science is understood, instead, primarily
as a process of discovery that aims at finding the truth as efficiently as possible,
the unity of science can be understood as an optimally truth-conducive heuristic
rather than as a metaphysical presupposition. Optimal truth conduciveness is what
epistemic justification is for. Therefore, Ockham's razor is justified as a scientific
heuristic even though it might be false.
1 Ockam's Razor and the Unity of Science
In the Preface to his De Revolutionibus, Nikolaus Copernicus did not cite any new or
crucial experiments in favor of his heliocentric astronomical hypothesis: his argument


Source: Andrews, Peter B. - Department of Mathematical Sciences, Carnegie Mellon University


Collections: Mathematics