Native American Studies

A practical philosophy for the life sciences by Wim J. van der Steen

By Wim J. van der Steen

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ISBN 0-7914-1616-X (paper) 1. Life sciencesPhilosophy. 2. Logic. 3. SciencePhilosophy. I. Title. II. Series. 01dc2092-27319 CIP 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Page v for Dick Burian and Anne, who made me taste the milk of human kindness Page vii Contents Preface ix Acknowledgments xi 1. Introduction 1 2. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Afterthoughts 31 3. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Afterthoughts 47 4. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Afterthoughts 66 Appendix to Chapter 4 69 5. Scientific Research: An Overview 73 6. 1. 2. 3. 4. Controlled Experimentation 95 Page viii 7.

I will use a more easy-sounding terminology and simply call them empirical statements. Statements with truth or falsity depending on meanings are called analytic statements by philosophers. In addition to this, statements are also called analytic when their truth or falsity depends on form. 'I am a man or I am not a man' is an example. This statement is true but its truth depends neither on facts nor on meanings. Its form is 'p or not-p' Any statement with this form must be true. Likewise the form 'p and not-p' will always yield false statements.

If you want to evaluate scientific theories and explanations with philosophical tools, you will have to address philosophical views on the subject. You would soon find out that there is no consensus in philosophy about the nature of theories and explanations. I have tried to come to grips with this problem by doing philosophy in a style which is more common in science than in philosophy. Philosophers typically aim at generally valid models and theories about science. Scientists also cherish generality, but they tend to be more modest.

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