- Paperback: 263 pages
- Publisher: Editions Rodopi B.V. (July 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9042015152
- ISBN-13: 978-9042015159
- Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 15 x 2 cm
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,800,261 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
1. The check on the problem. Does the theory solve the problem?
2. The check of logic. Is the theory internally consistent?
3. The check of consistency with other well-tested theories.
4. The check of evidence, falsifiability (if this is appropriate).
5. The check on the metaphysics.
The focus in this book by Jarvie is check 4, the use of evidence, although this is just the point of departure and the destination is much more interesting.
Jarvie argues strenuously that Popper's first major work in early 1930s can be interpreted to anticipate the social turn in the philosophy of science. This may be called the strong version of his thesis, by analogy with the strong program in the sociology of science. A weaker version of Jarvie?fs thesis, which is equally fruitful but possibly less controversial, is that Popper should be regarded as a conventionalist in scientific methodology (not to be confused with conventionalism as a theory of truth). Jarvie has argued convincingly that the decisive achievement of Logik der Forschung was to show the indispensable function of methodological conventions as rules of the game in science. This mirrors Popper?fs approach to political philosophy; as the function of the philosophy of science is to formulate and criticize the rules of the game of science, so the function of moral and political philosophy is to do the same for the rules of the game of social and political life. These rules may be unwritten conventions, mores and folkways, traditions, laws of the land and institutions of all kinds.
The Introduction to the book, Science as an Institution, sets out the major issues in the complex relationship between science and society that Jarvie hopes to illuminate. The word science of course has many different uses and discussion can easily be confused by conflating two or more of the meanings. Science may refer to a body of public knowledge; a set of beliefs about the world; the whole range of activities performed by scientists; some subset of those activities that are supposed to be special to science; the social and political institutions that influence the activities of scientists. Jacques Barzun wrote a particularly valuable book with the title Science: The Glorious Entertainment. Jarvie is clearly aware of the nuances of the topic and he surveys various approaches to it, including the positivist and falsificationist demarcation principles and Merton's sociological account of the distinguishing features of scientific knowledge.
Chapter 1 unpacks the hidden elements of the social turn in Popper's early philosophy of science. The key concept here is the need for rules of the game in science and these constitute what Jarvie calls the proto-constitution of science. This is the foundation of his project and he spells out this constitution in some detail, drawing from The Logic of Scientific Discovery (originally Logik der Forschung, 1935). In the following chapters he works through the evolution of Popper's thoughts over the decade from 1935 to 1945 to show how his views on science and society developed to the point they reached in The Poverty of Historicism and The Open Society and its Enemies.
The second chapter of Jarvie's book is called Popper's 1935 Proto-Constitution for the Republic of Science. This contains a list with Popper's supreme or meta-rule (SR) and 14 subsidiary rules (R1 to R14), which constitute the rudimentary scaffolding for Popper's republic of science.
SR: The other rules of scientific procedure must be designed in such a way that they do not protect any statement in science against falsification.
R1: The game of science is, in principle, without end. He who decides one day that scientific statements do not call for any further test, and that they can be regarded as finally verified, retires from the game.
R2: Once a hypothesis has been proposed and tested, and has proved its mettle, it may not be allowed to drop out without 'good reason'.
The "supreme rule" and the first two subsidiary rules were proposed by Popper, then Jarvie has identified additional rules that can be found scattered in the text of Popper's book.
R3: We are not to abandon the search for universal laws and for a coherent theoretical system, nor ever give up our attempts to explain causally any kind of event we can describe.
R5: Only those auxiliary hypotheses are acceptable whose introduction does not diminish the degree of falsifiability or testability of the system in question but, on the contrary, increases it.
R9: After having produced some criticism of a rival theory, we should always make a serious attempt to apply this criticism to our own theory.
And so on.
Jarvie's commentary on the constitution begins with the reminder that it is very incomplete. He notes also that it is very abstract, as thought the whole of science is a kind of debating society, leaving out of account a great deal of gritty reality, such as the question of leadership in the decision-making that is inevitably required, including decisions about adding to the constitution or revising it.
One of the implications of the social turn described by Jarvie is that the nature of objectivity is radically shifted. It ceases to be a problem for individual scientists, requiring that they be unbiased, rational and free from preconceptions. It becomes a situational or institutional problem, calling for such things as theoretical pluralism, clear formulation of the problems that the theories are supposed to solve, the design of critical experiments, the existence of journals, seminars and conferences to facilitate critical discussion. Some of these requirements need to be provided by individual scientists, especially new ideas and imaginative criticism; others call for institutions, including political institutions, to protect the autonomy of the journals and the research institutes.