前言

最近想到应该大致了解科学哲学的讨论内容,至少得到系统一些的认识,找到了风评还不错的爱思唯尔科学哲学手册,原名Handbook of the Philosophy of Science,全书按学科分出了诸多册,每一册都是大部头,我水平和精力又实在有限,所以先挑出General的部分看一看,以期留个印象,有时间再看心理学分册和其他分册。

在某群水群学术讨论的时候聊起科哲,发现大家或多或少有些了解,但也不深入。也有人指出,科哲对于实际研究帮助不大。这是可以理解的。在当前的科学实践中,光是追随范式独自完成一项实证研究都已非寻常事,比起傍晚的沉思,还是技术来得实在。但我也相信,如果真想搞出点大新闻,终归要更高瞻远瞩一些,而不是只有眼前的细枝末节。抽些时间对科学哲学做一些严肃的思考,还是“有用的”。而且“没用”又如何?有用本身就是一种价值上的预设。

对心理学来说,我认为科哲的意义更是不言而喻。上完一学期的心理学史,我姑且算是明白了前人的目标,这自然是收获;但麻烦的是,对这门学科在当代发展的目标又感到困惑了,当然这种困惑也算是一种收获。尽管对现状维持最低程度的认可很必要,但认知失衡还是迫使我寻求更好的答案。

笔记可能以提纲式的条目为主,必要时附上一些思考。

Laws, Theories, and Research Programs

Keyword(s): Law-distinction

Introduction

  • Empirical theories can be described as traditionally (a)sets of statements, or sets of models, which are the specification of classes of set-theoretic structures satisfying certain conditions.
  • The history of law-distinction:
    1. Classical logical empiricists. The point of departure is theory-free vocabulary.
    2. Meaning holism. All terms occurring in a theory are laden with theory.
    3. Nagel, Hempel, and Sneed. Some may be laden, while some may not, moving from two-level, short-term dynamics to a multi-level, long-term dynamics of the development, where proper theories become observational law with a new higher proper theory.

Examples and prima facie characteristics

Examples of proper theories:

  • Newton’s theory of graviation
  • Dalton’s theory of the atom
  • Mendel’s theory of genetics
  • Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance
  • Rational-choice theory
  • ….

Examples of observational laws:

  • Falling objects near the earth have constant acceleration, or Galilei’s law of free falling.
  • Chemical compounds always decompose into component substances with constant weight ratios.
  • When people have made a decision there is active seeking out of information which is consistent with the action taken.
  • ….

Characteristics of observational laws and theories, or their differences:

  • Wheras an observational law is usually represented as one, possibly complex, statement, a theory is usually presented as a system, a coherent set, of statements.
  • An observational law may specify what will happen under certain experimental conditions, while a theory may be stronger.

Differences above do not well distinct laws and theories, howerver.

  • Theories introduce new concepts, called “the theoretical terms”, that do not occur in laws.
  • Although laws can be explained by theories, they are relatively indepedent. That is, a law can be tested independently, and one law can be explained by multiple theories.

As suggested, opposed to the classical logical empiricist point of view, the last two differences may serve as conditions of adequacy.