Genuine Problems and the Significance of Science

Contemporary Pragmatism

40 Pages Posted: 22 May 2008 Last revised: 27 Sep 2010

See all articles by Matthew J. Brown

Matthew J. Brown

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Arts and Humanities; University of Texas at Dallas - Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology

Date Written: September 21, 2010

Abstract

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

Suggested Citation

Brown, Matthew J., Genuine Problems and the Significance of Science (September 21, 2010). Contemporary Pragmatism, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1135843 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1135843

Matthew J. Brown (Contact Author)

University of Texas at Dallas - School of Arts and Humanities ( email )

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University of Texas at Dallas - Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology ( email )

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