Disciplines

Continental Philosophy | Philosophy of Science

Abstract

approaches reflect the philosophical reflections on science expressed from the tradition of continental thought. In this context, the philosophical reflections on science to be found in Mach, Duhem and Bachelard may be mined for what should prove to be a productive

historical foundation between these two traditions addressed to a common focus.

Mach, Duhem and Bachelard among other thinkers have argued that science itself is more critical, indeed more inherently ‘hermeneutic’, than philosophy. But this point is problematic, and not only because of its counter-intuitive content -- whereby science ends up with the virtue of being more hermeneutic than hermeneutics itself. It is overhasty to conclude as Mach for one would argue, along with Duhem and Bachelard, that scientists are the best judges of their own practice or that science provides its own best philosophy.

If the analytic philosophic perspective represents the notion that (natural and objective) science is ‘mankind’s most successful truth enterprise’, as Heelan puts it, the continental approach rejects the Whiggish implications of this ideal. However, this is a subtle point inasmuch as there is no approach to the philosophy of science, analytic or otherwise, which conscientiously advocates a Whiggish or presentist ideal. Yet if the perspective of a continental approach to the philosophy of science is often perceived as ‘anti-science’, read off from its explicit rejection of scientific knowledge as a ‘privileged kind’, the pluralism of continental philosophy recommends a reconsideration.