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The Problem for Science

The Problem for Science

(p.63) Chapter Three The Problem for Science
Creatively Undecided
Menachem Fisch
University of Chicago Press

The realization, following the revolution in physics of the last century, that contrary to Kant, the constitutive synthetic apriori of a science is liable to be radically changed, forcefully raised the question of the rationality of scientific framework transitions in a way that could not be sidestepped as in other areas of philosophy. Kuhn’s preposterous likening of such transitions to religious conversions and gestalt switches was as unacceptable as Popper’s infamous pooh-poohing of the very idea of framework dependency. Building on The View from Within, the chapter goes on to analyze the transformative potential of external critique, against the backdrop of Brandom’s neo-Hegelian attempt to discern the role of inter-subjective engagement in the intra-subjective life of the rational self (which constitutes the book’s third bias). Criticism’s normative import is gauged by distinguishing it from testing, and the importance of leveling it from its addressees’ perspective, by distinguishing criticism from mere doubting. However, normative criticism cannot be thus leveled, without some measure of untruthfulness. Here, it is argued, in the unavoidable incongruity between our deontic self-image and the deontic portrayals of us premised by the arguments of our external normative critics, lies the key to their potentially ambivalating effect.

Keywords:   framework transitions, Thomas Kuhn, Karl Popper, Robert Brandom, criticism and testing, criticism and doubt, deontic portrayal, normative ambivalence

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