The Disorder of Things: Metaphysical Foundations of the Disunity of Science
The great dream of philosophers and scientists for millennia has been to give us a complete account of the order of things. A powerful articulation of such a dream in this century has been found in the idea of a unity of science. With this manifesto, John Dupre systematically attacks the ideal of scientific unity by showing how its underlying assumptions are at odds with the central conclusions of science itself. In its stead, the author gives us a metaphysics much more in keeping with what science tells us about the world. The order presupposed by scientific unity is expressed in the classical philosophical doctrines of essentialism, materialist reductionism, and determinism. Employing examples from biology, that most "disordered" of sciences, Dupre subjects each of these doctrines to detailed and devastating criticism. He also identifies the shortcomings of contemporary approaches to scientific disunity, such as constructivism and extreme empiricism. He argues that we should adopt a "moderate realism" consistent with pluralistic science. Dupre's proposal for a "promiscuous realism" acknowledges the existence of a fundamentally disordered world, in which different projects or perspectives may reveal distinct, somewhat isolated, but nevertheless perfectly real domains of partial order. This argument makes connections with recent discussions of science and value, especially in the work of feminist scholars. In Dupre's view, we have a great deal of choice about which scientific projects to pursue, a choice that can be informed only by value judgments. Such choices determine not only what kinds of order we observe in nature but also what kinds of order we impose on the world we observe.Elegantly written and compellingly argued, this provocative book should be of crucial interest to all philosophers and scholars of science.
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argued argument assume assumption behavior belief biological capacities causal completeness causes heart chapter Churchland cladistic claim classification concerned condition consider contemporary context demarcation problem detailed determinism deterministic discussion distinction ecological Eells effect empirical entities epistemic epistemological essential property essentialist evolution evolutionary example explanation fact factors folk psychology function fundamental genes goals heart attacks Hull Hull's human idea important individuals interactions investigation involved issues Kitcher laws least lung cancer lynx male matter mechanics mental metaphysical methodology molecular monism Nancy Cartwright natural kinds objects ontological ordinary language organisms particular perhaps phenomena phenotypic philosophical physical plausible pluralism population genetics position possible probabilistic causality problem processes Putnam question real essence reason reduction reductionism reductionist referred relation relevant role seems selection sense sexual significant sociobiology structure sufficient suggest supervenience suppose taxon taxonomy theoretical theory thesis things tion uniformitarianism unity of science