Wandering the information superhighway, he came upon the last refuge of civilization, PoFo, the only forum on the internet ...
Potemkin wrote:However, I think it's worth pointing out that much of science (even the 'exact' physical sciences) involves doing precisely what Lakatos implied is done only in a 'degenerative research programme' - inventing plausible explanations as to why some of our observations seem to contradict our theories' predictions. In fact, any functional scientific programme must be both a progressive and a degenerative research programme simultaneously, otherwise promising new theories and hypotheses might be killed off prematurely.
I agree, but I wouldn't necessarily state that setting up auxiliary hypotheses necessarily makes a research program degenerative, in Lakatos' sense (it can still have a very powerful explanatory heuristic. Einstein's relativity, for example, may still require auxiliary hypotheses to explain anomalous data, but it still has a powerful predictive capacity and remains progressive, in this sense).
Then again, Lakatos' conception is extremely problematic only because he thought that it wasn't necessarily intellectually dishonest to take up a degenerative program (he was, after all, a Marxist - although a revisionist in many ways). This is what prompted Feyerabend to think that Lakatos was an epistemological anarchist and was a 'rationalist' only in name - he did not have a solid basis for deciding when to abandon a 'degenerative' program.
You are right, however, that science is mostly 'puzzle solving' (in the Kuhnian sense). Lakatos' theory was an attempt to save rational progress in science (since it seemed lost with Kuhn).
It is clear, however, that Marxism is not a progressive program in any sense, but this does not mean that it may not be made progressive (its auxiliary hypotheses, for one, could be the basis for a powerful heuristic and predictive success. Although, as it stands, I do not think Marxist scholarship is headed in this direction).
I think it should be borne in mind that Marxism was an unfinished project when Marx died. I believe he had planned out a 12-volume magnum opus, but had only published the first volume (Capital vol. 1) when he died, leaving the next two volumes in an unfinished state and not having even begun the other volumes. Marxists inherited an unfinished palace, and have been busy adding more wings and outbuildings and trying to put a roof on the whole edifice, sometimes not in a very coherent manner. And frankly, some of the builders were cowboys who didn't follow proper building regulations. It's also arguable that the theoretical development of Marxism was derailed by the Russian Revolution and the need of the Soviet state to pragmatically use Marxism as a tool to maintain themselves in power; Marxism thereby became primarily an 'ideology' rather than a science. The collapse of the Soviet Union, while a temporary setback to the Marxist cause, may have actually cleared the ground, so to speak.
Potemkin wrote:Marxism thereby became primarily an 'ideology' rather than a science. The collapse of the Soviet Union, while a temporary setback to the Marxist cause, may have actually cleared the ground, so to speak.We could argue forever about this point, but the reality is that even if Marxism itself became an ideology under the Soviet Union, and now that its collapse has occurred, I think it scattered a lot more dust into the Socialist camp, allowing for more minor ideologies and philosophies to grow and develop within the camp itself. I think the collapse left a lot of rubble uncleared, not actually clearing any ground to move Marxism away from an ideology and towards a science.
Potemkin wrote:It's important not to apply a quasi-Hegelian teleology to the development of science - scientists are not trying to move collectively towards some sort of 'rational progress', but are merely trying to 'save the phenomena', defend their own theories, and establish a career for themselves.
Potemkin wrote:I don't see how it is possible to know when a degenerative programme should be abandoned. In practice, degenerative scientific theories just fade away rather than being refuted at some definite moment in history (though that can happen). There are still some people who believe in the phlogiston theory, for example; it's just that nobody pays any attention to them. The point is that there's no telling when a degenerative programme might suddenly revive and become progressive again. Wegener's theory of continental drift might be an example of this.
This was Feyeraband's point. If we cannot find any mechanism to describe when a theory should be abandoned, then the development of science is not rational but anarchic.
Potemkin wrote:he way in which the theory of continental drift became established as part of science rather than a 'crackpot theory', which it had been for decades after Wegener first suggested it, is rather instructive in this regard.
Wiki wrote:In his work, Wegener presented a large amount of circumstantial evidence in support of continental drift, but he was unable to come up with a convincing mechanism. Thus, while his ideas attracted a few early supporters such as Alexander Du Toit from South Africa and Arthur Holmes in England, the hypothesis was generally met with skepticism. The one American edition of Wegener's work, published in 1925, was received so poorly that the American Association of Petroleum Geologists organized a symposium specifically in opposition to the continental drift hypothesis. Also its opponents could, as did the Leipziger geologist Franz Kossmat, argue that the oceanic crust was too firm for the continents to "simply plow through". In 1943 George Gaylord Simpson wrote a vehement attack on the theory (as well as the rival theory of sunken land bridges) and put forward his own permanentist views . Alexander du Toit wrote a rejoinder in the following year, but G.G.Simpson's influence was so powerful that even in countries previously sympathetic towards continental drift, like Australia, Wegener's hypothesis fell out of favour.
In the early 1950s, the new science of paleomagnetism pioneered at Cambridge University by S. K. Runcorn and at Imperial College by P.M.S. Blackett was soon throwing up data in favour of Wegener's theory. By early 1953 samples taken from India showed that the country had previously been in the Southern hemisphere as predicted by Wegener. By 1959, the theory had enough supporting data that minds were starting to change, particularly in the United Kingdom where, in 1964, the Royal Society held a symposium on the subject.
Additionally, the 1960s saw several developments in geology, notably the discoveries of seafloor spreading and Wadati-Benioff zones, led to the rapid resurrection of the continental drift hypothesis and its direct descendant, the theory of plate tectonics. Alfred Wegener was quickly recognized as a founding father of one of the major scientific revolutions of the 20th century.
Indeed. Quite frankly, I cannot understand why anyone would think that the development of science is rational.The development of science is something different than the cognitive basis of science. Many scientific discoveries were by coincidence. Nevertheless they were rational in the sense they had an empirical basis.
Individual rationality can lead to collective irrationality, as the capitalist mode of production itself demonstrates.Very interesting, I see this very often with legal norms too.
Potemkin wrote:I didn't say that science itself is irrational; I said that the development of science is irrational, a very different thing.
TheClockworkRat wrote:This does raise a point that I know nothing about. Did Marxism arise out of circumstance? All the events leading up to that point may have had irrational causes, and therefore by extension, the rise of Marxism would be irrational.
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