Genuine Problems and the Significance of Science
40 Pages Posted: 22 May 2008 Last revised: 27 Sep 2010
Date Written: September 21, 2010
This paper addresses the political constraints on science through a pragmatist critique of Philip Kitcher’s account of “well-ordered science.” A central part of Kitcher’s account is his analysis of the significance of items of scientific research: contextual and purpose-relative scientific significance replaces mere truth as the aim of inquiry. I raise problems for Kitcher’s account and argue for an alternative, drawing on Peirce’s and Dewey’s theories of problem-solving inquiry. I conclude by suggesting some consequences for understanding the proper conduct of science in a democracy.
Keywords: John Dewey, Philip Kitcher, Charles S. Peirce, scientific significance, well-ordered science, pragmatism, aims, social theories of science
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