Naturalized Philosophy of Science: A Cognitive Approach

Ulrich Frey

Abstract


Ulrich Frey does not argue for naturalism in general but he gives a concrete example how a progressive naturalistic philosophy might work. His example is a naturalistic philosophy of science based on empirically accessible data about cognitive abilities of scientists. He argues that every investigation of scientific practice needs to consider the cognitive abilities of human beings, including scientists. On the basis of three case studies strong evidence is provided in support of the thesis that sciences like cognitive psychology and evolutionary biology offer good descriptions and explanations of phenomena that are of interest in the philosophy of science. So far most philosophers of science used a coarse grained approach by analyzing scientific paradigms and research programs. Many phenomena, however, are missed that way, because strengths and weaknesses of our individual thinking processes have to be considered as well. Frey’s naturalistic approach does not exclude historical and sociological facts. Nor does he aim at naturalizing them. The point he makes is that it is essential for philosophy of science (and for other disciplines in philosophy as well) to rely heavily on natural sciences for methodological and epistemological purposes.

Keywords


20th century philosophy; philosophy; philosophy of science; Wittgenstein Ludwig; case study; cognitive science; naturalism; philosophy of science

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