Identifier

etd-08282006-112443

Degree

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type

Thesis

Abstract

Throughout the history of science, philosophers and scientists alike have sought to codify a set of rules that would guarantee those who practice science success. These rules, if followed faithfully, would eliminate the guesswork from science, and instead, mold the practice of science into a rule - governed enterprise. Many philosophers of science have attempted to generate the rules that would govern successful scientific practice; however, with no success. Miriam Solomon attempts to give scientists heuristic advice by using a naturalistic approach in which she uses various case studies throughout the history of science to illustrate her approach. The core of Solomon's ideas surrounds her use of decision vectors, or those things that lead scientists to accept or reject a particular theory. Decision vectors can come from empirical data, or are based on conceptual biases, and are termed either empirical decision vectors, or non - empirical decision vectors. I use Solomon's guidelines and apply them to a case study in an attempt to demonstrate that her heuristic advice ought to be developed further if it is to proceed successfully. The Environmental Endocrine Hypothesis was developed by a group of scientists trying to establish a connection between chemical effluents leaching out into the environment and abnormal development in some species of animals. I have shown that Solomon's suggestions need to be developed further if they are to provide heuristic advice to scientists in the manner in which she strives. Solomon leaves unaddressed problems dealing with conceptual vagueness, such as when it is not clear if a decision vector is empirical or non - empirical. Moreover, though she says that the magnitude of non - empirical decision vectors does not figure in their tally, I have shown that her project cannot proceed unless she provides a clearer method for determining a strong ranking method for non - empirical decision vectors. To avoid making too hasty a mistake, I have refrained from making suggestions on the direction she should take in order to begin addressing some of the ambiguities present I this particular project.

Date

2006

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Jon Cogburn

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