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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
kk3n@andrew.cmu.edu
November 28, 2008
Abstract
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