New PDF release: Atmospherics

By Warren Ellis

She's in a clinic. other than it can be a police station. She's been traumatized. Or she's been arrested. She's the one dwelling witness of a cattle-mutilation type assault on people. Or she's a a number of killer who has a psychotic response to heroin use. Who won't live to tell the tale learning who she relatively is?

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A Popperian philosophy was anathema to people such as this, for all that some of Popper’s groupies tried to provide history which ~t his pattern. The argument against psychologism (that the context of discovery has no bearing on the context of justi~cation) meant that most of the work—and all of the nice juicy ~ndings—of the externalist historian were ruled out right there, before one even started. The concentration on ideas (internal history) meant that external factors were considered irrelevant; and when scientists got ensnared in violent and distasteful (well, let us not be hypocrites, compulsively viewable) disputes, which they frequently do, this must be considered an aberration.

Likewise with the relations between a theory and its fellows. “When steady-state cosmology was proposed as an alternative to the Big Bang hypothesis in the late 1940’s, the criticism it ~rst had to face was that it _atly violated the principle of conservation of energy, which long ago attained the status almost of an a priori in mechanics” (15). Unifying power is surely very important for success in science. An excellent example is the geological theory of plate tectonics. “What has impressed geologists suf~ciently to persuade most (not all) of them to overcome the scruples that derive, for example, from the lack of a mechanism to account for the plate-movements themselves, is not just its predictive accuracy but the way in which it has brought together previously unrelated domains of geology under a single explanatory roof” (15).

For this reason, when it comes to talking about the course of science, although Kuhn wants to talk of Copyright © 1999 The President and Fellows of Harvard College Two Theories of Science Ex am Co py “progress,” it is not progress in the sense of getting an ever-more faithful rendering of (more true picture of) an objective reality. Rather—and note the paradox that he, like Popper, appeals to Darwin—it is the progress of evolution, getting ever-more sophisticated and complex but without any ultimate end point.

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Atmospherics by Warren Ellis

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