TELEOLOGY, MECHANISM AND ONTOLOGY
(Theoretical Scientific Methodology)
Kant’s earliest work deals with issue arising out of Cartesian and Leibnizian dynamics; it was undoubtedly the Principia of Newton that was the first great scientific initiator of Kant’s thought. His objective is an extension of Newtonian dynamic to the evolutionary history of the whole cosmos. It is perhaps disturbing how the element of teleology, the question of the world’s design by a creative God, are to be related. The two central issues: (1) Causality of Law and (2) Causality of Purpose struggle for ascendency in the work of Leibniz. The Principia was the immediate stimulus. Kant says that a resolution of the above issues is possible and could only proceed from the counsel and domination of an intelligent and powerful being. (“General Schollum”, opcit, of Part I, p. 544; see also Gerd Buchdahl, Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Ideas: The Classical Origins--Descartes to Kant (University Press of America (NY: 1988, pp. 470-681); Clarence J. Glacken, Traces on The Rhodian Shore (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1967), pp. 655-713, “Epoch of Man in The History of Nature”).
While great names in the 18th century science--Buffon in France, Linnaeus in Sweden, Banks in England--were committed to the advancement of national history, which in many ways brought the activity of man into bold relief. Another great contributor to our discussion of theories of science is John F.W. Herschel. Professor Mino points out, “The first attempt by an eminent man of science to make the methods of science explicit.” (William Mino, Logic, Inductive and Deductive (NY: Scribners and Sons, 1904, p. 257) A work of Herschel’s, The Discourse on The Study of Natural Philosophy (London: Longman, Brown and Green, 1842, section 65) formulates Herschel’s philosophy of science. His discussion of scientific method is the most significant part of the work--it considers also the nature of the object of the natural sciences, the relation of such objects to the cognitive powers of the human mind, the tasks of these sciences, and the values for human society of the study of science.
The work is divided into three parts. Our brief study will be concerned only with parts one and two. His main consideration is how the advancements in science have improved the condition of mankind. Part II of the Discourse in seven chapters, sets forth and illustrates “the principles on which physical science relies for its successful prosecution and the rules by which a systematic examination of nature should be conducted.” Herschel’s direct predecessor in the attempt to formulate a philosophy of natural science is Francis Bacon, whose best known work, The Novum Organum appeared some 200 years earlier (1620). Herschel is one of few philosophers of science who hold Bacon in such high regard. Bacon’s general precepts of method appear in The Discourse. He relates to scientific/technological advances of the preceding two centuries. Herschel likes Bacon’s emphasis on “induction” and discusses it in section 95.
It is to our immortal countryman, Bacon, that we owe the broad advancements in the grand and fertile principle; and the development of the idea that the whole of natural philosophy consists entirely of a series of inductive generalizations, commencing with the most circumstantially stated particulars, and carried up to universal laws, or axioms, which comprehend in their statements every subordinate degree of generality, and of a corresponding series of inverted reasoning from general to particulars, by which their axioms are traced back into their remote consequences, and all particular propositions deduced from them. (Herschel, Preliminary Discourse, section 95)
Herschel further proclaims that -- “By the discoveries of Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo, the error of the Aristotelian philosophy were effectively overturned on a plain appeal to the facts of nature.” (Ibid., section 105) Our brief examination of Herschel’s philosophy of science will consider five factors: (1) Observation, experiment and classification; (2) Uniformity of nature; (3) Analysis of phenomena; (4) First stages of induction; and (5) Second stages of induction (e.g., David Hume’s, Inquiry Concerning Human Understanding, section 4 where he points out that the objects of inquiry are in all cases either “relations of ideas” or “matters of fact”).
Inquiry in the first, Hume says, gives us the mathematical sciences, whose conclusions have demonstrated certainty. Inquiry in the second begets the sciences of nature. These inferences are not demonstrative for they are based on the relation of cause and effect and we obtain knowledge of this relationship not through reason but only through experience. Herschel also contrasts the abstract with the natural sciences. The truths of the abstract sciences, e.g., of mathematics, can be arrived at independently of perceptual observation because such truths are necessary in the sense that denial of them involves one in self-contradiction. But in natural science, where we are concerned with causes and effects, and with laws which “for aught, we can perceive might have been other than they are.” (Herschel, Preliminary Discourse, sec. 66).
“The great and ultimate source of our knowledge must be human experience. This can be acquired in two ways: either by mere passive observation of facts as they occur but when for any reason science is limited to this, progress is usually very slow-- or actively by experimentation, that is, by putting in action causes and agents over which we have control and purposely varying their combinations and noticing what effects take place.” (Ibid., sec. 67)
Herschel utilizes Bacon’s “Idols in place of the use and consequences of data. They might be false opinions that do not have adequate evidence (e.g., Habits of mind). There can be possible “error” of sense data as judgments, i.e., when we assert more than the data justifies.
The fourth chapter of the second part of The Discourse is concerned with “the observation of facts and collection of instances” (ibid, sec. 109). WE can increase the accuracy of our measurements almost without limit by repeating them many times and taking their means (ibid., sec. 227ff.). But it is clear that the “means” or “average” never occurs in experience.
In the fifth chapter, Herschel is concerned with classification and nonmenclature. To avoid confusion, monies must be provided because there are a number/variety of objects observed. We must have names essentially relational, which will not serve to identify the objects but will at the same time indicate their relations to others of a given field, so that “the direct relation between the name and the object shall materially assist the solution of the problem--give the one to determine the other” (Ibid., sec. 130). A name of any object must have connection with the other objects in the “field of consideration,” else the names are purely arbitrary and we produce as many individuals as there are objects. No ???for arrangement should violate this procedure (or else reality is socially constructed).
The Uniformity of Nature
In Herschel’s fourth chapter he declares that facts must have unity if there is to be any scientific value. “The only facts which can ever become useful as grounds of physical inquiry are those which happen uniformly and invariably under the same circumstances. . . for if they have not this character they cannot be included in laws.” (Ibid, sec. 110) Anomalous facts may be recorded as curiosities or problems waiting for explanation, but “we can make no use of them in scientific inquiry.” (Ibid., sec. 110; note the use of anomalous data in Kuhn’s paradigmatic revolutions)
Regularity (or unity) is obviously not one that is a possible matter of observation in any individual instance, and it cannot, therefore, be used as a guide in selection of instances. Herschel here fuses “facts” and “circumstances” essential for scientific recording: Herschel’s “uniformity of nature” is a postulate definitive of the scope of science. Science is a study of such phenomena as are governed by laws.
Herschel’s second chapter of Part II of his Discourse calls it the “analysis of phenomena.” Here he unpacks definitions and presuppositions of his research. The term “phenomena” is defined as follows: “Phenomena. . .are the sensible results of processes and operations carried on among external objects or their constituent principles, of which they are only signals” (ibid, sec. 76) He explains this issue:
As the mind exists not in the place of sensible objects, and is not brought into immediate relation with them, we can only regard sensible impressions as signals conveyed from them by an inexplicable mechanism to our minds, which receives and reviews them, and by habit and association connects them with corresponding qualities or affections in the object. (Ibid., sec. 74)
Herschel’s epistemological ventures must now engage specific data.
This. . .an analysis of the phenomena of sound leads to the inquiry, first, of two causes, viz., the cause of motion, and the cause of sensation, these being phenomena which, at least as human knowledge stands at present, we are unable to analyze further, and therefore we set them down as simple, elementary and referable. . .to the immediate action of their causes. (Ibid, sec. 109 and Bacon’s Novum Organum II, 4)
Herschel’s use of the terms “cause,” “force,” and “law,” calls for separate examination. There are multiple senses of cause in his work--(1) Cause of Will, (2) Cause of Force, (ibid, sec. 77, 78) (3) Ultimate Causes (vs. “Jointly sufficient conditions”). We have no sense of ultimate causes! Herschel’s volitional cause has no applicability in the case of “inorganic nature.” He cannot escape the deux ex machina in his explanation of cause.
Herschel’s multiple meaning of cause can be summarized. The “cause” of sensation is declared by Herschel to be “much more obscure” still than that of motion (ibid, sec. 78, 82) as thus obscure the “cause of sensation, e.g., of auditory sensation, cannot be taken to refer to the vibration of such objects as bells or of air. He makes it clear in section 82 that by the “cause of sensation” he intended something that has no sensation, a relation analogous to that of an “expert of memory or imagination” to the images that that effort causes to appear in our minds! He probably means to adhere to Hume’s view according to which invariability constitutes the relation cell causation.
Like J.S. Mill after him, and like everyone else who accepts Hume’s identification of causation with regularity of conjunction, Herschel can be confronted here with the objection that according to this view we should have to class as cause certain relations that he, like anyone else would, as a matter of common sense, refuse so class. These would include not only such a relation as Ohm’s law describes between electrical current, potential and resistance, but also such a case as that of the close covarrata over a good many years, which Morris R. Cohen mentions in his Carus Lectures (The Meaning of Human History (LaSalle, IL: Open Court Press, 1947), p. 103) between the death rate in the state of Hyderabad, India and the membership in the American International Machinists Union.
Whatever Herschel may relate to Law and Cause, he declares in section 95 that promulgating laws “is what we mean by induction.” His theory, ultimately requires a union of many branches of knowledge in one person (Bacon’s New Atlantis) the end of; and Herschel, ibid., section 144).
Preliminary Steps to Induction
In the 6th and 7th chapters, Herschel passes to a direct enunciation of methodological precepts that are to govern induction. He distinguishes two broad states in induction: (1) At the First Stage, science is concerned with the discovery of “proximate causes” and of laws of the lower degree of generality, and with the verification of these laws. (2) At the Second Stage, the induction of science have for their material no longer individual facts, but, on the contrary, general facts, viz., the laws themselves and the causes which in the First Stage were obtained from the examination of individual facts. The results of this second stage of induction consists of higher generality, to which he gives the name theories, and which must like the others be verified. Herschel is constantly seeking rules of philosophizing” and throughout the exposition of them, is that of the discovery of causes. The problem of proof of causal connections is for him that of verifying, by deduction of prediction and comparison of the predictions with observed facts--the causal hypothesis that resulted from the use of the method of discovery (ibid., Preliminary Discourse, sec. 144).
His description of the course of scientific research appears to be that of eliminating from a number of possible hypothesis as to the cause of a phenomena those which are incorrect (i.e., non verifiable); and, eventually, that of devising more and more severe verifications of the adequacy of the hypothesis which has survived this process of elimination. His principle of method is expressed: “When we would lay down general rules for guiding and facilitating our search, among a great mass of assembled facts, for their common cause, we must have regard to the characters of that relation which we intend by cause and effect.” (Ibid. Sec. 145) Herschel bases his analysis on at least five characteristics: (1) Invariable connection and invariable (particulars) antecedents of the cause and consequences of the effect; (2) Invariable negation of the effect with absence of he cause, unless some other cause be able of producing the same effect; (3) Increase or diminution of the effect with increased or diminished intensity of the cause, in cases which admit of increase and diminution; (4) Proportionality of the effect to its cause in all cases of direct unimpeded action; (5) Reversal of effect with that of cause. On the basis of these characteristics of causal relations, Herschel then formulates ten observations that may be considered as “rules of philosophizing” (ibid, sec. 146-162).
(1) That if in our group of faces there be one in which any assigned peculiarity, or attendant circumstances is wanting or opposite, such peculiarity cannot be the cause we seek. (2) That any circumstances in which all of the facts without exception, agree may be the cause in question, or, if not, at least a collateral effect of the same causes; if there is but one such part of agreement, this possibility become a certainty; and, on the other hand, if there is more than one, they may be concurrent causes (e.g., jointly sufficient condition). (3) The third observation is an injunction against a priori rejection of a cause in favor of which we have an unanimous agreement of strong analogies, merely because we do not see how such a cause can produce the effect or even can exist with the circumstances of the case. (4) That contrary or opposing facts are equally instructive for the discovery of causes with favorable ones. (5) That causes will very frequently become obvious, by a mere arrangement of our facts in the order of intensity in which some peculiar quality subsists; though not of necessity, because counteracting or modifying causes may be at the same time in action. For example, the rapidity of vibration of a medium and the pitch of the note heard are judged to be causally connected among the correspondence between series of frequencies and the series of pitches. (6) That such counteracting or modifying causes may subsist unperceived and annul the effects of the same causes we seek, in instances which, by their action would have come into our class of favorable facts; and that, therefore, exceptions may often be made to disappear by removing or allowing for such counteracting of causes. (7) If we can either find produced by nature or produced designedly for ourselves, two instances agreeing exactly in all but one particular, and differ in that one, its influence in producing the phenomena, if it has any, must thereby be rendered sensible.
Herschel adds that although such cases of single difference are rare in nature, they are easily devised in experimentation, which becomes the more valuable as it more closely appropriates the requirement of having exact agreement in all its circumstances but one. (8) If we cannot obtain a complete negative or opposition of the circumstance whose influence we would ascertain, we must endeavor to find cases where it varies considerably in degree. (9) Complicated phenomena in which several causes concur, oppose, or are quite independent of each other, operate at once, so as to produce a compound effect, may be simplified by inducting the effect of all known causes, as well as the nature of the case permits either by deductive reasoning or by appeal to experience; and this leaving as it were, a residual phenomenon to be explained (Kuhn’s anomaly in narrative displacement). (10) The detection of a possible cause by the comparison of assembled cases, must lead to one of two things: (a) either the detection of a real cause and of its manner of acting, or as to furnish a complete explanation of the facts; or (2) the establishment of an abstract law of nature, pointing out two phenomena of a general kind as invariably connected; and asserting that where one is there the other one will always be found (ibid, sec. 177).
Empirical laws “derived by the direct process of including mathematical formulae the results of a greater less number of measurements” (Ibid, sec. 180), cannot be trusted beyond the limits of the data from which they are derived, and even within those limits must be carefully scrutinized to ascertain whether the difference between their results and actual facts may fairly be attributed to errors of observation (ibid, sec. 191). The choice of data rests with nature and the observer.
Bacon’s writings neither influenced Newton nor could have been of any possible value to him, and even that Newton had probably not read them, it is interesting to note Herschel’s statement with regard to one of Bacon’s “traveling instances,” that, “in reading this, and many other instances in the Novum Organum, one would almost suppose that its author had taken this from Newton’s Optics” (but not written them). The correspondence Herschel notes, though it obviously cannot be constructed as evidence either that Newton “borrowed” from Bacon or even that he had read his work, at least shows that Bacon’s observations wee not all as intrinsically worthless as the expressions of some of his critics would lead to believe (McVey Napier, “Remarks Illustrative of The Scope and Influence of the Philosophical Writings of Lord Bacon,” Transactions, Royal Society of Edinburgh VIII, p. 384).
The seventh and last chapter is devoted by Herschel to the higher degree of inductive generalization, and to the formation and verification of theories. “The ultimate facts that were pursued in the highest theories are the same as those of the lowest induction,” (ibid) and the means are closely analogous in both cases. In the 13th century Roger Bacon exhibited a more genuine empiricism and a greater practical mastery of scientific method than did Frances Bacon in the 17th century. But Roger’s example did not influence his contemporaries or his successors as it would have done had he lived three hundred years later.
Herschel’s instances utilizing “force”-“law” is essentially a causal law - never itself functions as a cause. A true example of an agent that is a vera cause in the sense specified by him would be the atom. He should have considered “the laws which regulate the action of these or primary agents; and these can be arrived at in three ways: (1) by “inductive reasoning,” that is, by examining all the particular cases, piecing together the results of his observations and generalizing from them; (2) by forming at once a bold hypotheses, particularizing the law, and trying the truth of it by following out its consequences and congregation with facts; (3) by a process partaking of both of these. . .viz. In cases where the laws that regulate the acts of our ultimate causes do not apply at once to the materials and directly produce the result (e.g. gravitation), we have to consider “a system of mechanism, or a structure of parts through the intervention of which (e.g. ultimate causes) become sensible to us.” (Book I, Part III, sec. 15) aphorism 22, “Rules by which to judge cause and effect; compare J.S. Mill, System of Logic (8th ed., NY: Harper & Row 1874, book III, chp ix, sec. 3); and W.S. Jevons, Pure Logic and Other Minor Works , ed. R. Adamson and H.A. Jevons (London: Macmillian Co., 1891); Bacon’s Novum Organum, xi, aphorism 11,12, 13, 15, 18, 20 also among the progressive instances)
As to the estimate of the value of theory, i.e., the “verification” of a theory, what is important to know, “is whether our theory truly represents all the facts and includes all laws to which observation and induction leads.” (Book I, Part III, sec. 15, aphorism 33; “Rules by which the “Precognitive Instances” occur). Herschel was not like Locke, Berkeley and Hume concerned to formulate an epistemology, but a theory of scientific method, which the two are inseparable. However, the question of the nature of theories and of their relations to laws is a different tone. Whewell, whose work Philosophy of Inductive Sciences was published ten years after Herschel’s Discourse, exhibits a somber insight into it; but it is not until comparatively recent years that a clear example can be said to have become available (see for instance, Norman Campbell’s Physics: The Elements (Cambridge University Press, 1920) and J.H. Woodger’s The Technique of Theory Construction (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1939); C.J. Ducasse, Causation and Types of Necessity (University of Washington Press, 1924) and in a paper entitled, “The Nature and Function of Theory in Ethics” Ethics, LI (1940):22-37); see my section on “Theories of Kant, Popper, Feyerabend, Carnap, Polanyi and Kuhn”, and “The Christian State in The Human Sciences; “The Counter Culture Meets the Neurophysical Revolution” “The Demise of The Person in Post Modern Science” “The Neurophysical Revolution” “Shaping Forces of the Counter Culture”
Herschel’s entire philosophy of science rests on the assumption of the “uniformity of nature,” but his ten rules for philosophizing are also an important contribution to the history and logic of science. J.S. Mill was surely correct in declaring that Herschel’s Discourse alone, “of all the books his four principles of inducting are distinctly recognized” (compare with Hume’s Discourse who influenced his contemporaries, e.g., Whewell and Mill).
William Whewell’s Philosophy of Scientific Discovery
Whewell’s work on the nature of scientific inquiry were first published (two works, 1858-1860) after those of Herschel (1830) and immediately before these of Mill (1841). Various additions followed with response to some of Mill’s opinion. The great popularity of Mill’s System of Logic not only tended to eclipse the importance of Herschel’s Discourse; it also stood in the way of general recognition of the merits of Whewell’s theory of the nature of scientific knowledge and the process of discovery. Disregard of its merits was easy because of its sharp break with the traditions of British Empiricism and its alliance instead with Kantian perspective. After Whewell’s work there became an enormous concern for philosophy of science (see esp. W. Whewell’s On The Philosophy of Discovery (3rd ed., London: J.W. Parker and Sons, 1860), p. 223). He declares that he adopted some of Kant’s views, or at least some of his arguments. The ideas of Space and Time in The Philosophy of Inductive Science was a translation of chapters in the Kritik der Reinen Vernuft. This is strange in view of Mansel’s charge that Whewell misrepresented the Kantian philosophy (see particularly H.L. Mansel, Prolegomena logica (2nd ed., Oxford, 1851, appendix note A); G.H. Lewis, The Biographical History of Philosophy (NY: Appleton and Co., 1885), pp. 661-674) for the controversy concerning Kant’s influence on Whewell) Whewell rejects Kant’s arguments for the exhaustiveness and a priori validity of the table of categories given in The First Critique.
What Whewell does borrow from Kant is the conception of knowledge as essentially involving both a subjective, “necessary” elements, and the objective, empirical one.
The Fundamental Antithesis Involved in All Knowledge
Whewell’s views on the nature of knowledge are most fully stated in Book I of the History of Scientific Ideas, while many statements on the subject are to be found in the Philosophy of Discovery; also notably in chapters xxiv, xxvii, xxix and appendix E. The Novum organum renovatum (beyond Bacon’s work) contain an account on the bases of such a doctrine of the processes by which science is constructed.
Whewell’s basic content is that all knowledge essentially involves the antithesis of two elements. One is given by “observation,” and the other is superimposed by ourselves upon what we observe. Only when the two elements are united do they have knowledge properly so-called (note total rejection is Post Modern view of Social Construction of Reality). (1) One such pair is thoughts and things--”in all human knowledge, both thoughts and things are concerned. . . . Thus, in the knowledge that a solar year consists of 365 days, there are involved on the one hand the sun as given, and on the other the mental act of counting. . . .Without thoughts, there could be no connection; with things, there could be no reality.” (Whewell’s History of Scientific Ideas I, p. 25) Again, we are familiar with the contrast of necessary and experimental truths. “Necessary truths are derived from our own thoughts; experimental truths are derived from our observation of things about us.” (Ibid., p. 27) (2) The opposition between deduction and induction constitutes another aspect of the same fundamental antithesis. “The term Deductive is specially applied to. . .a course of demonstration of truths from definitions and axioms” supplied by our thoughts; in Induction, however, “truths are obtained by beginning from observation of external things and by finding some notion with which the things an observed agree.” (Ibid., p. 9) (3) Another antithesis involving that of thought and things, but is not identical with it, is the antithesis of theory and fact. A theory is a general experimental truth and facts are the particular observation from which theories are inductively obtained. This implies the antithesis of thoughts and things for a true theory. (Ibid., pp. 29-31) (4) Of the various pairs of terms that express or refer to the fundamental antithesis of thoughts and things, the one that appears to separate the members of the antithesis most distinctly is, Whewell tells us, ideas and sensations (ibid., p. 34). “The ground of the axioms of Geometry is the idea of Space; the ground of the axioms of mechanics is the Idea of Force or action and reaction and the like. . . .It is not the logical but the philosophical with the formal but the real foundation of necessary truth, which we are seeking (ibid., p. 91, 183; also Whewell, Novum Organum Renovatum, 3rd edition (London: John W. Parker and Sons, 1858, p. 187) (5) The fundamental antithesis of philosophy has yet other aspects. In modern German philosophy, Whewell goes on to say, it has been indicated by the terms “objective” and “subjective.” (6) Classical ways of referring to the antithesis is “that which speaks of sensations as matter, and ideas as the forms of our knowledge, . . .This comparison having the advantage of showing that two elements of an antithesis which cannot be separated in fact, may yet be advantageously separated in our reasoning.” (Whewell, History of Scientific Ideas, pp. 82-83) (7) Nature has been opposed to man (“nature red in tooth and claw”). The facts of the external world are marks in which man discovers a meaning and so reads them.” (Ibid., pp. 41-43)
This enables us to sharply distinguish between theory and facts. “In theory the ideas are considered as distinct from the facts: in Facts, though Ideas may be involved, they are not, in our apprehension, separated from the sensations. In a Fact, the Ideas are applied so readily and familiarly, and incorporated with the sensations so entirely, that we do not see them, we see through them. . . . This is a true theory, is a Fact; a Fact is a familiar theory.” (Ibid., p. 44) Theories became Facts by becoming certain and familiar (ibid., p. 49).
In The History of Scientific Ideas, a technical term is when “some idea or concept which gives unity and connection to multiplied and separate perceptions,” has been found and has become thoroughly incorporated with them in our minds, a definite step in the pursuit of knowledge has then been made. Examples of technical terms would be an accelerating force, attraction, neutral salts, affinity, anode, cathode.
Controversy with Mill and Mensel
The remainder of Book I of The History of Scientific Ideas is devoted to a more detailed comparison of necessary with experimental truths, and a discussion of the grounds of the former. Whewell declares that necessary truths are to be found not only in mathematics, but also in other subjects such as mechanics, hydrostatics and chemistry although, Whewell grants, “the disciple of thought which is requisite to perceive them distinctly may not be so usual among men . . . as it is with regards to the science of geometry and arithmetic.” (Ibid., p. 63)
Whewell’s view of the ground of necessary truths met with considerable opposition on the part of Mill and Mensel. Mill contends that the definitions to which Whewell refers are not necessarily truths but merely some of our simplest and earliest generalizations from experience (see J.S. Mill, Systems of Logic (8th ed, (NY: Harper and Brothers, Book II, 1844, chapter V). Both Mill and Whewell agree that Axioms are necessary for mathematics in addition to definitions are, Mill says, not approximately but exactly true. They are, however, also inductive generalizations from observed facts.
To Whewell’s contention that experience cannot prove them, although it suggests the axioms. Mill replies that on the contrary and whether or not they be evident independently of experience, they are also evident from experience (Mill, op.cit) Axioms are conceived not only as true, but also as universally and necessarily true, and that sense experience cannot possibly give us propositions of this character but only general propositions (Whewell, On The Philosophy of Discovery, p. 336). In this work Whewell declares that “The special and characteristic property of all Fundamental Ideas, “is that they are the mental sources of necessary and universal scientific truths. . . and the way in which those ideas become the foundations of science is that when they are clearly and distinctly entertained in the mind, they give rise to inevitable convictions or intuition which may be expressed as axioms” (Whewell, ibid., p. 336). Whewell says the case is the same here as with light, which “reveals to us at the same time the existence of literal objects and our own power of seeing.” (Ibid., I, p. 78)
Whewell replies that Mansel and the Kantians admit the existence of necessary truths based upon other fundamental ideas than those of time and space, for instance those of substance and causality to these they ascribe not a “mathematical,” but a “metaphysical,” necessity, Mansel recognizes also “logical” necessity; and, Whewell says, there seems also reason why, on his own principles, he should not recognize yet others, as indeed he appears to him to do. We may, then well speak in general, of grounds of scientific necessity and these Whewell says, are precisely what he meant by fundamental ideas. He might well have added that the “transcendental deduction” that Kant gave of his categories would, perhaps automatically be open to any other categories that Kant might have overlooked, and that the question really might have overlooked, and that the question really at issue between him and Mansel is whether or not Kant’s attempted “metaphysical deduction” of his categories, based as it is upon a notoriously empirical table of judgments, has yielded none but, and all of the true categories of thought (fundamental ideas). It has, moreover, been waged by Paulsen (Whewell, ibid, pp. 266-267), that it is very difficult to see why experience should have to be appealed to for the knowledge of some syntheses. If, as Kant maintains, every synthesis is solely an act of the understanding, and some synthesis can be known without such an appeal, the drawing of a line between those that can and those that cannot be so known seems wholly arbitrary, and only consistent procedure the adoption of a pure rationalism or of a pure empiricism.
Process of Scientific Discovery According to Whewell
Whewell discusses the particular processes upon which the work of scientific discovery relies, is found in Novum organum renovatum. Our knowledge consists of applying ideas to facts--”. . .and the condition of real knowledge are that the ideas be distinct and appropriate, and exactly applied to clear and certain facts. The steps by which our knowledge is advanced are those by which one or the other of those two processes is rendered more complete; by which conceptions are made more clear in themselves, is by which the conceptions more strictly bind together the facts.” (Whewell, op.cit., p. 29) Here Whewell provides explication of conception and the colligation of facts, the task of inductive inquiry in the colligation of facts, the binding together of a set of facts by the invention and the introduction among them of an exact and appropriate conception, expressing them all at once. Therefore, facts and conceptions are fused into scientific method. (1) Clarification of the Elements of Knowledge by analysis, i.e., explicating facts and decomposition of facts; (2) Collegation of facts by means of a conception, selection of the idea construction of the conception, determination of the magnitudes; (3) Verification of the Collegation by: Prediction, consilence, simplification. These steps are inseparably connected to each other but not necessarily in temporal succession (ibid., p. 36, 49, 71) No scientific discovery can with any justice, be considered due to accident (ibid., 44, 46).
Whewell states that “When we inquire what facts are to be made the materials of science, perhaps the answer which we should not commonly receive would be that they must be True Facts, as distinguished from any mere inference or opinion of our own.” (Ibid., p. 51) We cannot exclude our ideas from our perception, for our perception involves our ideas.” (Ibid, p. 52, 76-78) Whewell asks whether induction does not have a typical formula such as the syllableism constitutes for deduction. As such a formula, it would not be enough to say that all known particulars of a given kind are exactly included in a certain general proposition, for this bring out only the evidence for the induction but not the induction step itself at all, which consists in the suggestion of a conception not before apparent (ibid., p. 110) “These facts are completely and distinctly expressed by adopting the following Definition and Propositions.” (Ibid, p. 111) The tabular arrangement of induced propositions in order of increasing generality is regarded by Whewell as of so much value that he calls such tables the “criterion of truth” for the doctrine they include, he goes so far as to say, “the criterion of inductive truth in the same sense in which Syllogistic Demonstration is the criterion of necessary truth” (ibid, 115)
As inductive methods depending upon resemblances, Whewell mentions the methods that appeal to the law of continuity, the method of gradation and the method of natural classificatio
Whewell’s Notion of Cause n.
Whewell concludes the discussion of the methods of induction application to quantity and resemblance with the statement that they “commonly lead us to Laws of Phenomena only.” However, Headds states that “Induction founded upon other ideas, those of Substance and Cause for example, appear to conduct as somewhat further into a knowledge of the essential nature and real connections of things.” (Ibid, p. 232) In proceeding to such inductions, however, “we can no longer lay down any Special Methods by which our procedure may be directed.” (Ibid., p. 228) (The conflict between Whewell, Herschel and Mill are of crucial importance in the history of the discussion of Scientific Method while our simple presentation cannot reveal this important phenomena)
By cause, Whewell states that “We mean some quantity, power or efficacy, by which a state of things produces a succeeding state. Thus the motion of bodies from rest is produced by a cause which we call Force. And in a particular case in which bodies fall to the earth, this force is gravity.” (Whewell, Novum organum renovatum, p. 83)
Process of Verification
Verification, in Whewell’s view, is a most important element of the inductive process. He discusses three different tests of hypotheses: (1) The first is adequacy. The hypothesis that we entertain should be sufficient to explain all the phenomena that we have observed (ibid., p. 85). (2) The test of a hypothesis consists in its capacity “to fore tell phenomena which have not yet been observed, at least all phenomena of the same kind as those which the hypothesis was invented to explain.” (Ibid., p. 86) (3) The capacity of a hypothesis to explain and predict cases of a different kind from those that were contemplated in the formatting of the hypothesis. When this takes place, we have what he terms, a “Consilience of Inductions;” that is, two laws obtained by independent induction and concerning apparently heterogeneous classes of phenomena turn out to be, both of them deductible from one and the same hypotheses.” Whewell’s hypothesis was in essence identical with the principle that Sir William Hamilton has called “the principle of parsimony” and with the well known maxim connected with the name of William of Occam (W.M. Thorburn, “The Myth of Occam’s Razor” Mind , NS. xxvii 1918):pp.345-353; and Hamilton’s Discussion of Philosophy, p. 580) The historical debates between Whewell, Herschel and Mill were turning points in the history of the Philosophy of Science. The extended discussion of probability is that when Mill said that induction is proof what he was thinking of was when Mill said that induction is proof. What he was thinking about was the Four Methods that he adopted from Herschel’s Discourse.
Estimate of The Importance of Whewell’s Philosophy of Science
Adequate hypotheses are discovered by the method of trial and error, each hypothesis thought of being testing in turn against the facts until a hypothesis is found which the facts verify. According to Whewell’s correct hypotheses are “necessary truths” apprehended by progressive intuition is reconcilable with the doctrine just describes only if the process of comparing hypothesis with facts is conceived as essentially a device for the clarification of the meaning of our hypotheses. His importance in the history of science (theories of induction) is primarily three things: (1) That proposition and definition are the two hurdles of the instrument by which knowledge grows, and the admirable way in which he makes clear the relation of definitions to propositions. (2) Whewell’s doctrine is the most conspicuous examples, up to his time, of an attempt to base a detailed and concrete philosophy of science upon essentially Kantian epistemological premises. (3) The most significant is that Whewell is the first to formulate a comprehensive and systematic theory of Induction throughout in terms of the so-called Newtonian method of Hypothesis-Deduction Verification.
John Stuart Mill’s Meaning of Induction ( System of Logic)
What does Mill mean by Induction? (See especially Book III of his System of Logic, 8th edition (NY: Harper and Bros, 1874) “For the purposes of the present inquiry, induction may be defined the operation of discerning and proving general propositions” (Mill, op.cit., p. 208) “We shall fall into no error, then, if in treating induction we limit our attention to the establishment of general propositions. The principles and rules of induction as directed to this end are the principles and rules of all inductions” (ibid., p. 210). Further Mill refers to “that transition from known cases to unknown, which constitutes Induction in the original and acknowledged meaning of the term” (ibid., p. 221, 223
The most crucial passage from Mill’s on Induction is “The mortality of John, Thomas and others is, after all, the whole evidence we have for the mortality of The Duke of Wellington. Not one iota is added to the proof by interpolating a general proposition (e.g., that all men are mortal). Since the individual cases are all the evidence we can possess, evidence which no logical form into which we chose to throw it can make greater than it is, and since that evidence is either sufficient in its self, or, if insufficient for the one purpose , cannot be sufficient for the other; I am unable to see why we should be forbidden to take the shortest cut from these sufficient premises to the conclusion.” (Ibid., p. 142)
Mill discerns the essence of all reasoning in the preceding statement (ibid., p. 153) “And we shall consider every process by which anything is inferred respecting an unobserved case, as consisting of an Inductive followed by a Deduction; because, although the process needs not necessarily be carried on in this form, it is always susceptible of the form and must be thrown into it when assurance of scientific accuracy is needed and desired.” (Ibid., pp. 153,154)
This represents Mill’s most explicit and careful statement of the meaning in which he wishes to use the term induction. Yet, there is a crucial problem, i.e., that of the indirect ascertainment of individual facts--the discussion leads him into inconsistencies so as to render it impossible to say what after all he does, or does not mean by induction. “The conflict rages--what does Mill mean by Induction? Mill expresses his view succinctly in the following passage: It is true, that the process of indirectly ascertaining individual facts is as truly inductive as that by which we establish general truths. But it is not a different kind of induction; it is a form of the very same process. . . whenever the evidence which we derive from observation of known cases justifies us in drawing an inference respecting even one unknown case, we should on the same evidence be justified in drawing a similar inference with respect to a whole class of cases.” (Ibid., p. 208)
Mill offers an example of ascertaining the distance of the moon from the earth by trigonometry, on the basis of simultaneous observations of the zenith distance of the moon taken from two far distant points on the earth’s surface. . . In the process, he points out, the share of direct observation is limited to the ascertainment of those zenith distances; all the rest, he asserts, is inductive. At each step in the demonstration, “a new induction is taken in, represented in the aggregate of its results by a general proposition.” The process whereby the individual fact of the distance of the moon was ascertained is therefore exactly similar, he says, to that by which science establishes its general truths; in fact, “a general proposition might have been concluded instead of a single fact, namely, . . a theorem respecting the distance not of the moon in particular, but of any inaccessible object; showing what relation that distance stars to certain other quantities.” (Ibid., p. 209)
Mill contends that what Whewell calls induction is merely description. All observation statements must always compare the “fact” with others. “There is always something introduced which was not included in the observation itself; some conception common to the phenomenon with other phenomena to which it is compared.” Mill goes on and here we reach the point of interest--”These resemblances are not always apprehended directly. . .they are often ascertained through intermediate works, that is, deductively” (ibid., p. 452; compare with Mill’s Logic and Scientific Method (NY: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1934, pp. 249ff.)
Uniformity of Nature and Mill’s Theory of Induction
According to Mill, on hat ground is it possible to pass from particular observations to a general proposition--a question to which he gives considerable attention in the third chapter of Book III, entitled, “On the Ground of Induction,” and in the twenty-first chapter of the same book, entitled, “Of the Evidence of The Law of Universal Causation.”
Induction, according to Mill, may be summarily defined as a generalization from Experience. It consists in inferring from some individual instances in which a phenomenon is observed to occur, that it occurs in all instances of a certain class. “This, I say, is an assumption involved in every case of induction” (Mill, Logic, p. 223, 224). Note that this conclusion was not reached by Induction! There is no inductive generalization adequate to justify the assumption of their truth admissibility. The observed range of nature cannot justify the universal truth statement in science.
Mill’s position regarding the principle of uniformity of nature to induction thus seems to be thoroughly untenable. The implications of strict empiricism in respect to this question were realized by Hume, in spite of his own numerous inconsistencies, with far greater clearness than by Mill, whose discussions of the uniformity of nature obscures the issues without solving any of the difficulties. The unsolvable difficulty is with the inherent weakness of Empiricism as an epistemology from which to make truth statements. Here lies the inherent irrationality of Post Modern Anti Science!
Causation and Method of Induction
How is Mill’s method of induction to be used to affirm “universal causation?” The conception of induction that governs his discussion of these methods is stated by him in the following: “To ascertain, therefore, what are the laws of causation which exist in nature; to determine the effect of every cause, and the causes of all effects is the main business of Induction; and to point out how this is done is the chief objects of Inductive Logic.” (Mill, ibid., p. 271) The reason for this is, according to Mill, “all the uniformities which exist in the succession of phenomena, and most of the uniformities in their co-existence, are either. . .themselves laws of causation, or consequences resulting from and corollaries capable of being deduced from, such laws” (ibid., p. 271). The terms cause and effect, Mill defines by saying, “Between the phenomena. . .which exist at any instant, and the phenomena which exist at the succeeding instant, there is an invariable order of succession. The invariable antecedent is termed the cause; the invariable consequence, the effect.” (Ibid., p. 236, 244) Here lies the intrinsic weakness of Mill’s empiricism. For a strict empiricist such as Mill claims to be, the addition of the requirement of unconditionalness to the definition of cause really modifies it or is not rather utterly empty of the virtue that he needs. (Keep this in mind as we pursue the weaknesses of empiricism deeper in the Polanyi/Popper/ Feyerabend/Kuhn debate toward Anti Science of much of Post Modern science; and my essay on “Narrative Displacement in Mathematics: From Euclid to Goedel”)
Mill’s Inductive Empiricism
Since Mill was greatly influenced by Hume, Mill’s position about “cause,” unconditional antecedent cannot be derived consistently from this empiricism. If we know that the sun was the unconditional antecedent of the days we do not know it on the basis of empiricism. We only know in the sense that the day has invariably followed the appearance of the sun. Empiricism can never provide guarantee of the future, again on strictly empiricistic premises, we do not even know that the night is not the unconditional antecedent of the day, in the sense that if the night does not precede, the day will nevertheless perhaps be present. We know it, that is to say, not from experience, but again only under the assumption “that the present constitution of things endures.”
Mill is here the victim of his own fatal plausibility. The root of his difficulties in connection with the concept of causation is often all the fundamental inconsistency, already demonstrated at length in examination of Hume’s empiricism, between a radical empiricism, such as his and Mill’s and his use of the methods of agreement and difference. The methods described in his chapter entitles, “Four Methods of Experimental Inquiry,” viz., the methods of agreement, of difference, of concomitant variation, and of residues, are usually regarded as the most important part of his contribution to the theory of induction. That these methods were in no sense discovered by Mill has appeared from our examination of the writers before him. In Herschel’s Discourse, especially, Mill fully acknowledges his indebtedness (Jevons’’s Pure Logic and Other Works, p. 251). Mill’s chapter of “Deductive Method” employs deduction in areas where direct observation and experiment is impossible (inapplicable). This mode of investigation consists of three operations: (1) direct induction, (2) ratiocination; and (3) verification (Mill, System of Logic, p. 325). He expounds these three factors as--(1) The problem of the Deductive Method, “. . . .is to find the law of an effect, from the laws of the different tendencies of which it is to joint result. . . . To ascertain, then, the laws of each separate cause which takes a share in producing the effect, is the first desideratum of the Deductive Method.” (Ibid). (2) This process consists in “determining from the laws of the causes which effect any given combination of these causes will produce.” (Ibid., p. 328). This is the matter of ratiocination; and, “By such ratiocination from the separate laws of the causes, we may to a certain extent succeed in answering either of the following questions: Given a certain combination of causes, what effect will follow? And what combination of causes, if it existed, would produce a given effect? (Ibid., p. 329) The test of the validity of results so obtained is verification; they must “be found on careful comparison to accord with the results of direct observation wherever it can be had.” (Ibid., p. 330)
Mill’s first step in scientific investigation is hypothesis; this deductive method is identical with the method described by Newton, Herschel and Whewell. It constitutes what Whewell conceives the inductive process as a whole to be. Mill’s discussion of the “Deductive Method” is an acknowledgement of the superiority of the method that Whewell calls Induction, to that which Mill calls induction (application to phenomena of his five methods of Experimental Inquiry). We can sum up Mill’s System of Logic, especially concerned with the above questions: With reference to the meaning of the term Induction, Mill’s statements are of interest primarily by way of contrast with Whewell’s. By induction, Whewell means essentially discovery, while Mill, in spite of the fact that in one place he defines it as “the operation of discovering and proving general propositions,” means essentially proof (ibid., Mill’s Logic, “Induction is Proof”, Book III, chp. 2, sec. 5); Whewell, On The Philosophy of Discovery pp. 282ff.). Mill cannot provide an inductive proof for an “individual.” His reference to inductive logic as the logic of truth, deductive logic being the logic of consistency, since it makes no difference between truth of general and truth of particular prepositions.
Concerning the basis of the possibility of generalization - the uniformity of nature - Mills’s views are of value perhaps chiefly as exhibiting the in insuperable obstacles confronting a radical empiricism in that direction; otherwise, he adds nothing to Hume’s discussion of the matter. Concerning the question of methods of induction is of value on account of its fullness, and of the wide attention that it has attracted, than of its novelty.
W.S. Jevons on Induction and Probability
Jevons attempted to relate in a systematic way his view on the nature of Induction Probability and Hypothesis. The chief component of his theory is the “inverse” nature of induction and his explication of the classical theory of probability and the nature of hypothetical influence. His influential work is a bridge from 19th century philosophy of science to modern and postmodern discussions in this field. In deduction, Jevons asserts that we are engaged in developing the consequences of a law, ; we learn the meaning, contents, results or inferences that attach to any given proposition (W.S. Jevons, The Principles of Science (2nd ed., London: Macmillian and Co., 1924, p. 11). Herschel says: “This remark rather belongs to the inverse or deductive process by which we pursue laws into their remote consequences.” (J.F.W. Herschel, Primary Discourse on The Study of Natural Philosophy (London: Longman, Green, and Longman, 1842, sec. 184) Induction is the deciphering of the hidden meaning of natural phenomena and we are required to point out the laws which govern these combinations” (Jevons’, pp. 124, 125)
Jevons calls certain types of induction perfect induction because “all the objects or events which can possibly come under the class treated have been examined” (ibid, p. 146) “. . .perfect induction is a process absolutely requisite. . . in the performance of imperfect induction, [or] if I can draw any inference at all concerning objects not examined, it must be done on the data offered by the objects which have been examined. . . . Adams and Leverrier, for instance, must have inferred that the undiscovered planet Neptune would obey Boole’s laws because all the planets known at that time obeyed” (ibid., p. 146-147)
Jevons claims that imperfect induction is always uncertain; and one reason for this uncertainty lies in the assumption of the uniformity of nature, which, while it is a postulate of inductive inquiry (induction is not justifiable without it), nevertheless can never be proved. Jevons avers “that we ever have upon the will of the creator for maintaining the framework of the world unchanged from moment to moment.” (Jevons, p. 149) “All prediction, all inferences which read beyond their data, are purely hypothetical, and proceed on the assumption that new events will conform to the condition detected in our observation of past events. [But] we cannot be sure. . . that our observations have not escaped some fact, which will cause the future to be apparently different from the past; nor can we be sure that the future really will be the outcome of the past. We proceed then in all our inferences to unexamined objects and times on the assumptions: (1) that our past observation gives us a complete knowledge of what exists. (2) that the condition of things which did exist will continue to be the conditions which will exist.” (Ibid., pp. 149,150)
Jevons’s strong belief in the uncertainty of “imperfect” induction made him suspicious of Mill’s analysis of cause, which Jevons’s thought, mistakenly it may be, implied “that when once we pass within the circle of causation we deal with certainty.” (Ibid., p. 222) Only “perfect” knowledge, whether deductive or inductive, can give certainty; but Jevons’ insists, since perfect knowledge of nature is beyond our power, we must content ourselves with the partial knowledge of imperfect induction. “. . .knowledge mingled with ignorance producing doubt” (ibid., p. 197) and the measure of such knowledge, he was convinced with the Laplacien theory of probability. He expounded the theory formally and later shows that, in its inverse form, it is the essence of imperfect induction (ibid., p. 203). “Thus the death of a person is neither more or less probable because the planet Mars happens to be visible (ibid., p. 204; see esp. Ernest Nagel, Principles of The Theory of Probability (Vol. I, no. 6, International University of Encyclopedia of Unified Science (Chicago Press, 1939, pp. 45ff.).
A crucial problem remains for Jevons’, i.e., to account for the possibility and nature of inductive extrapolation or prediction within the framework of inverse probability calculations. He formulates this “general universe problem” as--”an event having happened a certain number of times and failed a certain number of times,, required the probability that it will happen any given number of times in the future under the same circumstances” (ibid., p. 251).
Jevons’s concern for Induction and Deduction is grounded in the assumption of the uniformity of natural laws. Jevons, like Whewell, believed that the invention and successive trial of hypotheses constitute the very essence of the inductive process and this leads him to note that without the use of deduction whereby to draw from hypotheses the consequences the comparison of which with facts constitutes the “trial” of a hypothesis all induction would be impossible (ibid., p. 330). Jevons’s description of the concrete process of induction is: Being in possession of certain particular facts or events expressed in proposition we image some more general propositions expressing the existence of a law or cause and, deducing the particular results of their supposed general proposition, we observe whether they agree with the facts in question: Hypothesis is thus always employed consciously or unconsciously” (ibid., p. 350)
The mere agreement of the hypothesis with already observed facts, however, is not sufficient--”. . .when once we have obtained a probably hypothesis, we must not rest until we have verified it by comparison with new facts. We must endeavor by deductive reasoning to anticipate such phenomena, especially those of a singular and exceptional nature, as would happen if the hypothesis be true” (ibid., p. 267). The significance of Jevons’s hypothetico-deductive interpretation of science lies in the generalization of the procedure to fit all scientific inference. The method does not apply only to the discovery of causes, which, since they frequently involve the assumption of theoretical entities, clearly qualify as hypotheses, but also refers to the discovering of laws. Theory and analogical reasoning must be our guides.” (Ibid., pp. 492-493). Some modern authors write that a hypothesis is more or less probable in terms of different evidence at different times or that one hypothesis is more or less probable than another in terms of the same evidence. . . “ (J.O. Urmson, “Two of The Senses of Probable” in Philosophy and Analysis, ed., Margaret Macdonald (NY: Philosophical Library, 1954), pp. 191-199)
In spite of its shortcomings, the theory of Jevons continues to fascinate some logicians of science. These logicians trying to avoid the difficulties of the classical theory, and yet retain its evidential analysis, have devised various logical theories of probability that are either all inclusive interpretations of “probability or else interpretations of only one of the senses of probable.”
Charles Sanders Peirce’s Search for Method (on Pragmatic Foundations)
Thomas Goudge points out that Peirce’s work “are piece meal analysis in which profound insights and unresolved problems exist side by side” (T.A. Goudge, The Thought of C.S. Peirce (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1950), p. 157; also vital in understanding Peirce is Justus Buchler, Charles Peirce’s Empiricism (London: Kegan, Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co., 1939). Although pragmatism as a philosophy appears in several authors (see esp. E.H. Madden, Chauncey, Wright and The Foundation of Pragmatism (Seattle, 1963), its originator in America was Charles S. Peirce (1839-1914). The most popular voice of American pragmatism was William James and in Peirce’s lifetime he was not an influential philosopher on the American scene. But after his death he became a philosopher’s philosopher. His father was a Harvard mathematician and astronomer, Benjamin Peirce (1809-1880). Charles’ education was at Harvard in chemistry.
In the academic years of 1864-65 and 1869-70, Peirce lectured at Harvard on the early history of modern science and in 1870-71, he lectured on logic. In 1868, Peirce published some lectures in The Journal of Speculative Philosophy on the failure of the human mind concerning intuition without the need for previous knowledge, the premises which constitute the absolute points of departure for reasoning.
Peirce distinguishes different kinds of Truth. There is, for example, what he calls transcendental truth which belongs to things as things. And if we say that science is looking for truth in this sense, we mean that it is inquiring into the real characters of things, the characters which they have whether we know that they have them or not. But here we are concerned with what Peirce calls complex truth, which is the truth of propositions. This again can be sub divided. There is, for example, ethical truth or veracity, which lies in the conformity of a proposition with ‘the speakers’ or writers’ belief. And there is logical truth, the conformity of a proposition with reality in a sense, which must now be defined.
When we speak of truth and falsity, we refer to the possibility of the propositions being refuted. And there is logical truth, the conformity of a proposition with reality in a sens,e which must now be defined. (See esp. Peirce, Collected Papers, ed. Charles Hortshorne and Paul Weiss, 8 volumes (Harvard University Press, 1931-38). Often we hear Leibniz’s influence in Peirce’s writings, eg., trues of fact and trues of reason. They include scientific hypotheses and metaphysical theories about reality. Yet, a scientific hypothesis can be true without our knowing that it is. For while empirical refutation shows that a hypothesis is false, what we can verify does not prove that a hypothesis is true. Scientific hypothesis Z which on other grounds is preferable to X, Scientific hypotheses can enjoy varying degrees of probability, but they are all subject to possible revision. All formulators of what passes for human knowledge are uncertain, fallible (Peirce’s pragmatism). Even a fallible declaration is Peirce’s answer that he does not intend to claim that his assertion is absolutely certain this may be logical, but it involves a certain weakening of his position. Yet, Peirce’s principle of fallibilism does not entail a denial of objective truth. No one asks a theoretical question unless he believed that there was such a thing as truth. Truth consists in a conformity of something independent of his thinking it to be so, or of any man’s opinion of that subject (Peirce, 5.211).
Truth can be defined from different points of view. From one point of view truth can be taken to mean “the universe of all truths” (ibid., p. 5.153). All propositions refer to one and the same determinately singular subject. . . namely, to the truth, which is the universe of all universes, and is assumed on all hands to be real (ibid., 5.506). From an epistemological point of view, truth can be defined as that concordance of an abstract statement with the ideal limit toward which endless investigators would tend to being scientific belief (ibid 5.565). These remarks show signs of Idealism fused with pragmatism. Peirce’s philosophy shows sings of Hegelian Idealism.
Pragmatism as Peirce conceives it, is not a Weltanschauung but is a method of reflection having for its purpose to render ideas clear (ibid., 3.13 note) It belongs to methodology, to what Peirce calls methodeutic. The logical foundations and connections of pragmatism, it is appropriate to say something first about his account of logic. Peirce divides logic into three main parts--the first is speculative grammar. This is concerned with the formal conditions of the meaningfulness of signs. A sign is a representanent and stands for an object to someone in whom it arouses a more developed sign, the interpretant. A sign stands for an object in respect of certain “characters, and this respect is called the ground. The relation of significance or the semiotic function or signs is for Peirce a triadic relation between representation, object and interpretant, under the category of speculative grammar. Peirce also considers terms propositions and the fundamental principles of logic, those of identity, non-contradiction and excluded middle. A second division of logic, critical logic, is concerned with the formal conditions of the truth of symbols. Under this heading Peirce treats the syllogism or argument, which can be divided into deductive, inductive and abductive argument. Inductive argument, which is statistical in character, assumes that what is true of a number of members of a class is true of all members of the class. It is in connection with induction that Peirce considers the theory of probability. Abductive argument is predictive in character. It formulates an hypothesis from observed facts and deduces what should be the case if the hypothesis is true. (Royce tells us, pragmatism can be described as the logic of abduction)
A third main division of logic, speculative rhetoric, deals with what Peirce calls the formal conditions of the force of symbols or the general conditions of the reference of symbols and other signs to the interpretants which they aim to determine (ibid., 2.93). In communication a sign arouses another sign, the interpretants, in an interpreter. Peirce insists that the interpreter is not necessarily a human being. And he wishes to avoid psychology as much as possible; he lays emphasis on the interpretant rather than on the interpreter. Peirce seeks to fuse speculative rhetoric with the theory of means. For the meaning is the entire intended interpretant, as pragmatism is for Peirce a method or rule for determining meaning, it obviously belongs to or is closely connected with speculative rhetoric, which is also called “methodeutic.”
Pragmatism is a method or rule for making ideas clear, for determining the meaning of ideas. But there are different types of ideas. Strictly speaking, the theory of ideas belongs to epistemology. But Peirce insists that it is grounded on the logic of relations. Thereby, he emphasizes the relevance of the theory to pragmatism. Peirce speaks of Hegel as the greatest philosopher that ever lived (ibid I. 524). It is beyond our present purpose, but we must briefly note that it is not too fanciful to see in Peirce’s thought an anticipation of Whitehead’s famous distinction between the primordial and consequential nature of God. For Peirce tells us that God as creator is the “absolute First,” while as terminus of the universe, God completely revealed He is the “absolute Second.” Here perhaps are the ingredients of Hegel, Whitehead and the “Openness of God” theologians in our post modern maze. Whitehead, himself is an anti idealist, though it was by original intention, bears some resemblance in its final form of “absolute Idealism.”
Peirce approached philosophy by way of mathematics and science. Therefore, his metaphysics is a prolongation or extension of his reflections on the scientific view of the world, while at the same time he expressed a marked affinity with metaphysical idealism. Yet after all Peirce strove to provide a critical rationalist interpretation of reality (see particularly Philip P. Wiener, Peirce in Evolution and The Founders of Pragmatism (Harvard University Press, 1949); and T.A. Coudge, “Peirce’s Treatment of Induction,” Philosophy of Science VII (1940), pp. 56-68). Peirce’s search for method is unpacked in “The Doctrine of Chance,” “The Probability of Induction,” “Varieties of Induction,” and “Notes of The Doctrine of Chance” (ibid., 657-58, 560, 675, 665, 661, 664, 666, 661, 652-669). Peirce writes about induction and hypothesis. Induction is an argument which sets out from a hypothesis resulting from a previous adduction, and from virtual predictions, drawn by deduction of the results of possible experiments, and having performed the experiments, conclude that the hypothesis is true in the measure in which those predictions are verified, this conclusion however, being held subject to probable modification to suit future experiments.” (Ibid II, 96; see total of Goudge’s article). Goudge’s excellent article compares Peirce and John Venn on this issue. “It is clear that for both Venn and Peirce the fact of relative frequency lies at the heart of probability. Venn interprets it as the relative frequency of the occurrence of a given event within a series of events. Peirce takes it to be the relative frequency with which an argument yields true conclusions in the class of arguments to which it belongs.” (Goudge, The Thought of C.S. Peirce, p. 167). Whether or not Peirce contributed to the philosophy of science, his influence is undeniable.
Chauncey Wright and The American Functionalists
Since Wright had a strong influence on James and Dewey and American Functionalist Pragmatism, his importance is far beyond this discussion of semantics and methodology. Though our immediate concern is the development of the philosophy of science in Western culture, we will take note of Dewey’s succinct description of the influence of Darwin on American pragmatism
That the combination of the very words origin and species embodied an intellectual revolt and introduced a new intellectual temper is easily overlooked by the expert. The conceptions that had reigned in the philosophy of nature and knowledge for two thousand years, the conceptions that had become the familiar furniture of the mind, rested on the assumption of the superiority of the fixed and final; they rested upon treating change and origin as signs of defect and unreality. In laying hands upon the sacred ark of absolute permanency, in treating the forms that had been regarded as types of fixity and perfection as originating and passing away, the “Origin of Species” introduced a mode of thinking that in the end was bound to transform the logic of knowledge, and hence the treatment of morals, politics, and religion. . . .
But for two decades before final publication he contemplated the possibility of being put down by his scientific peers as a fool or as crazy; and he set, as the measure of his success, the degree in which he should affect three men of science: Lyell in Geology, Hooker, in Botany, and Huxley in Zoology. . . . Without the methods of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, and their successors in Astronomy, Physics, and Chemistry, Darwin would have been helpless in the organic sciences. As we have already seen, the classic notion of species carried with it the idea of purpose. .
The design argument thus operated in two directions. Purposefulness accounted for the intelligibility of nature and the possibility of science, while the absolute or cosmic character of this purposefulness gave sanction and worth to the moral and religious endeavors of man. Science was underpinned and morals authorized by one and the same principle, and their mutual agreement was eternally guaranteed. . .the preparation in earlier stages of growth for organs that only later had their functioning--these things were increasingly recognized with the progress of Botany, Zoology, Paleontology, and Embryology. Together they added such prestige to the design argument that by the late eighteenth century it was. . . the central point of theistic and idealistic philosophy.
. . . the Darwinian principle of natural selection cut straight under this philosophy. . . .So much for some of the more obvious facts of the discussion of design versus change, as causal principles of nature and of life as a whole. We brought up this discussion, as a crucial instance. What does our touchstone indicate as to the bearing of Darwinian ideas upon philosophy? In the first place, the new logic outlaws. . . one type of problems and substitutes for yet another type. Philosophy foresees inquiry after absolute origins and absolute finalities in order to explore specific values and the specific conditions that generate them.
Darwin concluded that the impossibility of assigning the world to chance as a whole and to design in its parts indicated the insolubility of the question. Two radically different reason, may be given as to why a problem is insoluble. . . . But in anticipating the direction of the transformations in philosophy to be wrought by the Darwinian genetic and experimental logic, I do not profess to speak for any save those who yield themselves consciously. . . to this logic. No one can fairly deny that at present there are two effects of the Darwinian mode of thinking. . . there are making many sincere and vital efforts to revise our traditional philosophic conception in accordance with its demands. . . there is as definitely a recrudescence of absolutistic philosophies; an assertion of a type of philosophic knowing distinct from that of the sciences, one which opens to us another kind of reality from that to which the sciences give access; an appeal through experience to something that essentially goes beyond experience. This reaction affects popular creeds and religious movements as well as technical philosophies. The very conquest of the biological sciences by the new ideas has led many to proclaim an explicit and rigid separation of philosophy from science. . . . Doubtless the greatest dissolvent in contemporary thought of old questions, the greatest precipitant of new methods, new intentions, new problems, is the one affected by the scientific revolution that found its climax in the “Origin of Species.” (John Dewey’s The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy (NY: Peter Smith, 1951), pp. iii to 19)
“When William James proposed to make psychology a natural science, there was a rude awakening among American philosophers--in their “critical” dogmatic slumber they had become accustomed to contrast between natural and moral science, as if it were the unshakable foundation of faith [19th century classical liberal theology] as well as the customary foundations of all textbooks.” (Herbert W. Schneider, A History of American Philosophy (Columbia University Press, 3rd printing, 1947), p. 515).
In Europe the sensationalism of the British and the dynamic psychology of the French and the Germans had prepared the way for the idea that intelligence might be conceived as a natural process. But even Darwin, who in his work on conscience and the emotions was beginning to explore the field of psycho-biology, was extremely cautious. James, too, though he returned from Europe in 1868, inspired by Darwin, Helmholtz, Charcot and other naturalists, was Kantian enough to retain the belief that morals rest on a priori foundations. But intelligence, the life of the soul, mental activity, this field which because of its teleological nature had been subordinated to moral science, Geisteswissenshaft, was now to be assimilated to biology.
Therefore, reason was to be explained as a natural outgrowth of animal intelligence. Even the dynamic idealists protested against this idea. A rational ideal or moral end “which interprets, which gives meaning to, which unifies all processes,” must have its basis “in the rational and spiritual constitution of reality.” Only if we “read physical causes in terms of rational purpose” can we incorporate “ethical ends in the very structure of reality.” Physical science, in seeking to make man mechanical and to rob nature of its divinity, merely makes science inhuman. J.A. Hyslop of Columbia University, expresses forcefully the general conviction when he wrote “Evolution is explanatory, ethics is legislative. . . can we legislate for mankind upon the mere basis of power?. . . No doubt naturalistic theory well describes the actual influence of might in determining things as they are.” (See J.H. Hyslop, “Evolution and Ethical Problems,” Andover Review (x (1885): 348-364; and John Dewey, “Ethics and Physical Science,” Andover Review, vii (1887): 573-591).
The new scientific view of the “subject” we do not care what the practices of “savages really are. We may still inquire whether they ought to be what they are.” (See J.H. Hyslop’s review of “Schuman’s Ethical Impact of Darwinianism.” Andover Review xx (1888): 203-206) “Science, indeed can tell us nothing of the validity of virtue, duty or good. . . their warrants being in the last analysis an inexpungable consciousness of their right to us and authority over us.” (J.G. Schuman, The Ethical Impact of Darwinianism (NY, 1887): 164)
To these familiar and eminently sound objections, the new school of biological and genetic empiricists turned a deaf ear. The natural science of the mind was not concerned with what we ought to think, but with how we think and why we believe what we do, whether our beliefs are reasonable or foolish, valid or invalid. This new psychology would no loner be normative, would not expand the rules of mental health; it would be clinical, explaining to men how their minds work even when they are working badly. Of these psychologists, William James became particularly important for philosophy. In 1878, his course at Harvard, previously entitled “Physiological Psychology “, Herbert Spencer’s Principles of Psychology became “Philosophy 4 Baine on Intelligence.” He began modestly enough. In defending his new course to President Eliot he wrote,
“. . . a real science of men is now being built up out of the theory of evolution as the facts of archaeology, the nervous system and the senses. It has already a vast material extent, the papers and magazines are full of essays and articles, having more or less to do with it. The question is--shall the students be left to the magazines, on the one hand, and to what languid attention professors educated in the exclusively literary way can pay to the subject? Or shall the college employ a man whose scientific training fits him fully to realize the force of all the natural history arguments, whilst his commitment familiarity with writers of a more introspective kind preserves him from certain crudities of reasoning which are extremely common in men of the laboratory pure and simple?
Apart from all references to myself, it is my firm belief that the college cannot possibly have psychology taught as a living science by anyone who has not a first-hand acquaintance with the facts of nervous physiology. On the other hand, one mere physiologist can adequately realize the subtlety and difficulty of the psychologic portions of his own subject until he has tried to reach, or at least to study, psychology in its entirety. A union of the two “disciplines” in one man, seems then the most natural thing in the world. (Ralph Barton Perry, The Thought and Character of William James (Boston, 1935), II, p. 12)
Soon he took his radical experimental empiricism, that is, his combination of evolution, physiology and introspection, upon philosophical beliefs themselves; he took “the sentiment of rationality” into his psychological laboratory for clinical investigation (note the more immediate influence of science on the entire academy in Western Christian civilization, i.e., the pragmatism of Dewey’s functional educational theory) in our Post Modern Anti Science maze/ Darwin’s
influence was far beyond Biology; see my papers, “19th Century Context of The Victory of The Darwinian Method: Background of American Pragmatism” “Shaping Intellectual, Cultural Forces: Social Darwinianism and The Liberal Social Gospel in American Theology, i.e., influence on Education - in Lincoln Christian College library)
There were four fundamental results of the development of science: (1) The Inevitability of Progress; (2) The Perfectibility of Man; (3) The Complete Animality of Man; and (4) Nature is Total Reality. These four factors shaped the four dimensions of Western culture: (1) Education, (2) Work--Capitalistic Democracy vs. Socialism, (3) Nature of Religion: History of Comparative Social Religion, Psychology of Religion, Phenomenology of Religion (contra the uniqueness claims of The Christian Narrative ground in opposition to cultural and epistemological relativism and process: “Openness Theology” and the pragmatism in Pop Culture) and (4) The Complete Animality of Man from Machine Animal to the Brain reduced to the mind to a low-grade computer analogue, the ultimate reductionism (see my papers, “Neurophysical Revolution: Shaping Forces in The Counter Culture” “The Counter Culture Meets the Neurophysical Revolution: The Demise of The Person in Post Modernism” and “The Christian Faith and Scientific Revolution: Demarcation--Kant and Popper Formulation of The Problem, i.e., the Difference between Meaningful and Meaningless Statements) and my essays on Theories of Meaning).
Wright believed what Peirce later denied--the universality of causality. The claim that every event has a cause, is a postulate on assumption of scientific inquiry (see Charles S. Peirce, “The Doctrine of Necessity” in Collected Papers , ed. By Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss (8 volumes) (Harvard University Press, 1931-58), vol. VI, pars 35-65); Chauncey Wright’s “Defense of Darwin and The Neutrality of Science” Journal of The History of Ideas VT 1945): 19-25); and Philip O. Wiener, in his reply to Herbert Schneider’s review of his book, Evolution and The Founders of Pragmatism in The Journal of The History of Ideas (XI) 1950:246-247).
Wright’s insistence on the universality of causality emerges most clearly in his discussion of the paleontological sciences (Chauncey Wright, Philosophical Discussions, ed. C.E. Norton (NY: Henry Holt and Co., 1887, p. 4ff; 9ft; 17ff; 130ff., 137-38ff; 141, 143-144; 173ff; 177-190; 199-205; 244ff). Wright ascribes that “every event has a cause.” Because Wright accepts the Humean meaning of criterion, he is not claiming that the statement is synthetic and necessarily true. He would not admit that the notion of truth and falsity can be predicted legitimately of this sentence at all. Wright is not claiming the ontological status of causality for the universe, but it is a rule and so not true or false that is necessary for inductive inference just as certain rules are required to make deductive inferences possible. G.J. Warnock writes, “this contention looks obviously wrong: It is probably true that most people who use inductive argument do assume, or perhaps half unconsciously take for granted, that if they try hard enough they will succeed in their quest; but it is not by any means necessary that they should assume this. . . .” H.W.B. Joseph’s assertion in his work Introduction to Logic,( p. 420) that to accept this idea is to “despair of reason and thought is dramatic, but an exaggeration. Failure and despair in some cases are compatible with optimism and success in others.” (G.J. Warnack, “Essay Event Has a Cause” in Logic and Language, ed. A.G. Flew (Oxford University Press, 1953, p. 96, Basil Blackwell)
For Wright, irregularities in the function of causal complexity, it is a remnant that always challenges further explanation; and even in the case where an explanation is impossible, one can sometimes give what appears to be a reasonable explanatory sketch (e.g. Jointly sufficient condition vs. Absolute mechanical causation). Wright’s use of counter factual inference might be criticized as an irreducible notion (A.W. Burks, Introduction to the chapter on Peirce in Classic American Philosophers, ed. Max Fisch (NY: Appleton-Century Crofts, 1951, pp. 41-53); and esp. R.B. Braithwaites’ discussion of counter factuals and lawfulness in Scientific Explanation (Cambridge University Press, 1953, pp. 295-304).
This post modern problem of counter factual inference stems from the alleged impossibility for a post modern Humean of explicating the concept “causal law,” which supports counter factual inference, within the conceptual framework of Principia Mathematics; counter factual inferences, the objection goes, is rendered either self contradictory or vacuous (Braithwaite, ibid., pp. 295-304; others have tried to distinguish between causal laws and accidental correlations without a Humean framework, with such concepts as infinite scopes, purely qualitative predicate, entrenched predicate, predictability index, theoretic concepts, etc. (See C.G. Hempel and Paul Oppenheimer, “Studies in The Logic of Explanation” Philosophy of Science, XV )1948): 135-175; Nelson Goodman Facts, Fiction and Forecast (Harvard University Press, 1955: 87ff;); and R.B. Braithwaite, Scientific Explanation, 295ff.) The difficulties with the view of ontological connections still must remain and must be solved in their own right.
Philip P. Wiener has cogently claimed that Wright’s central contribution to philosophy is showing the metaphysical neutrality of scientific investigation. By “scientific neutrality” Wright meant that science is uncommitted to any particular metaphysical or theological interpretation of its findings and free from all forms of control imposed by metaphysical and theological interpretation of its findings and free from all forms of control imposed by metaphysical and theological authorities. Orthodoxy has repeatedly sought to reconcile scientific results with their own “presupposition.” (See Bebe, Patterns of Relating Science and Christian Faith and my study outline) On Wright’s Humean empiricism, it is problematic to hold scientific concepts and laws as true, independently of any ontology. Do scientific ideas necessarily appear already in an epistemological constituted universe?