Response to the Argument from Social Construction (Barseghyan-2015)

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An attempt to answer the question of Possibility of Scientonomy - The Argument from Social Construction which states "Science can be said to be socially constructed in several different senses (e.g. the contingency, nominalist, and reducibility theses). None of these preclude the possibility of scientonomy."

Response to the Argument from Social Construction was formulated by Hakob Barseghyan in 2015.1 It is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available theory on the subject.

History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of Response to the Argument from Social Construction (Barseghyan-2015):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 January 2016The theorem became de facto accepted by the community at that time together with the whole theory of scientific change.Yes

Question Answered

Response to the Argument from Social Construction (Barseghyan-2015) is an attempt to answer the following question: How is scientonomy possible if science is a social construction?

See Possibility of Scientonomy - The Argument from Social Construction for more details.

Description

In The Laws of Scientific Change (2015), Hakob Barseghyan argues that none of the social constructivist theses preclude the possibility of a general theory of scientific change. He provides different reasons to invalidate each of the respective social constructivist theses. The general theory is that the argument from social construction does not undermine the possibility of the theory of scientific change (TSC). Barseghyan shows that each of the theses lead to bizarre implications that form threats not only to the scientonomic project but to all other disciplines that constitute descriptive propositions.

Firstly, the contingency thesis does not void the possibility of TSC because the contingency thesis itself is a general theory of scientific change. That is to say, the contingency thesis is itself a general descriptive proposition that is attempting to illustrate the mechanism by which science undergoes changes, namely, that there are no patterns in the evolution of science 1p. 92. For example, the idea that Aristotelian-Medieval physics could have been directly replaced by Einstein’s general relativity without the intermediary stage of Newtonian physics is an inference of the contingency thesis; such a claim is itself a descriptive proposition. Therefore, in virtue of the contingency thesis being a descriptive proposition, it falls under the same category of the general theory of scientific change. Hence, the contingency thesis does not invalidate the scientonomic project 1pp. 91-92.

Secondly, the nominalist thesis similarly does not undermine the possibility of TSC as its claim negates the validity of any descriptive proposition that attempts to describe a particular phenomenon. Given the nominalist claim, disciplines such as Biology, Chemistry and Physics, would have to be discredited because they too constitute descriptive propositions. Therefore, if the nominalist thesis were to be true, it would not only be a particular threat to the general theory of scientific change alone1p. 92.

Finally, all three reducibility theses do not endanger the scientonomic project:

• The ontological reducibility thesis does not undermine the project because the claim that higher-level systems compose of lower level elements does not imply that there can be no theory describing the higher-level system. For example, in Biology, the study of lower level elements like genes does not imply that a theory at a higher level is not possible: the theory of evolution is a description of a higher-level system, which would not be possible under this thesis. Likewise, the general theory of scientific change is not undermined by this thesis 1p. 94.

• The epistemic reducibility thesis is not an obstacle to TSC because it has an unprecedented implication just like the other thesis. If the thesis were to be true, then the laws of Biology would be reducible to the laws of Chemistry, which in turn would be reducible to the laws of Physics. The definition of epistemic reducibility is not clearly agreed upon or formulated. But, the basic premise would precludes not only TSC but all our schemes of knowledge. Therefore, it is not a threat to TSC particularly 1p. 94.

• The methodological reducibility thesis renders all higher-level theories pointless. It implies that only sociology can study the changes in the scientific mosaic and, therefore, TSC is ultimately plausible. But, since all higher-level theories are rendered pointless, all disciplines would be said to be futile with the exception of Physics (note: it is assumed here that all disciplines can be potentially reduced down to Physics). Therefore, just as the other theses, the methodological reducibility thesis does not put forth any danger to the possibility of TSC 1pp. 95-96.

References

  1. a b c d e f g  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.

Contributors

Abdullah Sarwar (66.8%), Hakob Barseghyan (1.5%), Paul Patton (31.7%)