Not Philosophy of Science!
This 340-page book is a collection of 22 previously published works by or about Hegel, Bergson, Cassirer, Husserl, Heidegger, Bachelard, Canguilheim, Foucault, Deleuze, Irigaray, and Habermas. I read this appalling anthology with dismay.
I had been a practicing research economist/econometrician in both business and government for more than thirty years. In my research work I applied the principles of contemporary pragmatist philosophy of science, and I built my career upon my computerized artificial-intelligence discovery system. I can honestly say that philosophy of science has been more contributing to my professional successes in empirical economic research than the economic theory conventionally taught in the graduate schools.
Philosophers have been commenting on science since the historic Scientific Revolution in the sixteenth century. But a philosopher's musings about science are not as such philosophy of science. What I found in this book is unrecognizable as philosophy of science and useless for both the research scientist and the philosopher of science. As Austrian Nobel laureate physicist Wolfgang Pauli was known for saying about an irrelevant paper, "It's not even wrong!" For a contemporary understanding of philosophy of science I refer the reader to Philosophy of Science: An Introduction.
Philosophy of science today aims to formulate principles of basic-science research practice by investigating successful episodes in the history of science, and then to advance contemporary science by applying the principles. Today this aim has been facilitated by computer systems that simulate important developments in the history of science. Nobel laureate economist Herbert Simon founded this new technique, and many examples of systems can be found in his Scientific Discovery: Computational Explorations of the Creative Processes. In his Computational Philosophy of Science (Bradford Books) Paul Thagard named the new technique appropriately "computational philosophy of science".
Using such computer systems the philosopher now participates in the work of the scientist, and no longer condescends from the mountaintop ivory tower. But the selections in this book reveal Gutting's aloofness from the scientist's work, as well as his anachronistic philosophical understanding. Some articles in this anthology might charitably be construed as metaphysics, epistemology, anthropology, social philosophy, philosophy of history and/or sociology of knowledge - just about anything but professional philosophy of science.
The book also reports that Gutting is now philosophy department chairman at the University of Notre Dame. One of Gutting's predecessors in that job at Notre Dame was a certain Reverend Ernie McMullin, who insisted to me during a Ph.D. exam that philosophy of science is Aristotle, Kant and Hegel. McMullin then told me to get reformed or get out. I got out (!), enrolled elsewhere, and wrote the computerized artificial-intelligence discovery system that could not be a Ph.D. dissertation in philosophy of science at Notre Dame. The system made my professional research career as an economist singularly successful.
McMullin was a European-born and a (Catholic University of Louvain Pontifical Institute, Belgium) European-educated academic, for whom American pragmatism is utterly alien. In my personal experience I observed that McMullin and his philosophy faculty were truculently hostile to the views of contemporary pragmatists. For example McMullin ridiculed Norwood Russell Hanson in the Hanson memorial in Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science (1968) and was ridiculing and dismissive toward Paul Feyerabend in Irish Theological Quarterly (November 2009). And Michael Loux, who was hired by McMullin, attacked Willard van Quine's philosophy of language in the Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic (January 1974).
Hostility towards pragmatism seems to be characteristic of Catholic philosophy. Pragmatism is indigenous and native to modern American culture. The contemporary pragmatist philosophy of language and philosophy of science affirm semantical and ontological relativism. But Roman Catholic philosophers find it threatening. On the eve of his election Pope Benedict XVI warned that the modern world is moving toward a "dictatorship of relativism".
The Reverend Chairman McMullin had hired Gutting in the 1960's. These days McMullin is pushing up daisies. But Gutting's book tells me that the McMullin Geist haunts the halls of Gutting's philosophy department. It tells me that today the Notre Dame philosophy faculty is still as marginalized as when the school had complied with Pope Leo XIII's 1879 mandate to teach Scholastic Thomism, which the Pope had promulgated in his papal encyclical Aeternae Patris. Gutting's book also tells me that Notre Dame Ph.D. philosophy graduates are destined to teach in other reactionary Roman Catholic parochial schools, while contributing nothing to contemporary philosophy of science for consequential practice of science.
Finally I note an irony. The most consequential of the continental philosophers of science is not even mentioned in Gutting's Continental Philosophy of Science. He is Nobel laureate physicist Werner Heisenberg, whose reflections on Einstein's relativity theory and on his own historic uncertainty relations in quantum theory anticipated academia's contemporary pragmatism by a quarter of a century. For example he and Einstein anticipated Quine's theses of empirical underdetermination, relativized semantics and ontological relativity. Heisenberg made a revolution in philosophy of science as well as in physics. Interested readers can find this brilliantly pioneering philosophy of science in Heisenberg's Physics and Beyond, Encounters and Conversations, Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science and Across the Frontiers.
I invite readers to Google "philsci" and "hickey", which is my web site about philosophy of science that offers free downloads.
Thomas J. Hickey