Ideas of W.H. Newton-Smith, by Theme

[Canadian, fl. 1980, At Balliol College, Oxford University.]

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1. Philosophy / G. Scientific Philosophy / 1. Aims of Science
We do not wish merely to predict, we also want to explain
The real problem of science is how to choose between possible explanations
For science to be rational, we must explain scientific change rationally
1. Philosophy / G. Scientific Philosophy / 2. Positivism
Positivists hold that theoretical terms change, but observation terms don't
Critics attack positivist division between theory and observation
3. Truth / A. Truth Problems / 6. Verisimilitude
Theories generate infinite truths and falsehoods, so they cannot be used to assess probability
More truthful theories have greater predictive power
10. Modality / C. Sources of Modality / 1. Sources of Necessity
De re necessity arises from the way the world is
11. Knowledge Aims / A. Knowledge / 4. Belief / a. Beliefs
We must assess the truth of beliefs in identifying them
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 6. Relativism Critique
Defeat relativism by emphasising truth and reference, not meaning
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 1. Observation
A full understanding of 'yellow' involves some theory
14. Science / A. Basis of Science / 5. Anomalies
All theories contain anomalies, and so are falsified!
The anomaly of Uranus didn't destroy Newton's mechanics - it led to Neptune's discovery
Anomalies are judged against rival theories, and support for the current theory
14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 1. Scientific Theory
Why should it matter whether or not a theory is scientific?
14. Science / B. Scientific Theories / 5. Commensurability
If theories are really incommensurable, we could believe them all
20. Action / C. Motives for Action / 3. Acting on Reason / c. Reasons as causes
Explaining an action is showing that it is rational