So, I was wondering what some good books are that give an overview of movements in the philosophy of science. I only have a very general understanding about how positivism was critiqued and killed by Popper and the postpositivists, because verificationism leads to the problem of induction and all that.
However, being a student of the social sciences, I encounter a lot of fellow students critiquing "positivism" not on these terms, but with these postmodern/post-structuralists positions critical of the stance that authoritative belief comes from reason or empirical data. You know, the whole, "nothing is objective" and "lived experience is just as important as data" and "shit's all constructed."
To me, these complaints sound like people stamping their feet about the fact that they can't just say things and expect people to take them as true, and that they need these pesky things called "evidence" and whatnot. As someone on the left myself, I'm concerned about the fact that this sort of thinking is very prevalent amongst leftists. But perhaps I am oversimplifying it and don't understand their position. What should I read to better understand it?
Oh well, you should look into the 'Positivismusstreit' the dispute between Popper and the Frankfurt School. The argument isn't that no objective truth exists, but that you can't observe society from a point of view that is neutral and unbiased, as you're part of it, and your research has a legitimizing function. Therefore, Sociology can't be done like a natural science.
While I find most charges of "scientism" just a vague snarl term used as a thought-terminating cliche to shut down any lack of automatic acceptance of nebulous, unfalsifiable claims, I do see what I would call "scientism" arising from scientists who seem not to understand philosophy, such as some of the "New Atheists" and pop scientists like Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who proclaim that "science has killed philosophy" and absurdities of that kind, without realizing that science is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge and can do nothing to address questions that can't be settled empirically, but only through deduction and abstract reasoning. I mean, sure, some philosophical questions have been more-or-less settled by science. I feel that contemporary neuroscience has been the death knell of dualistic conceptions of qualia, for example. Core questions of epistemology and metaphysics, however? Science will likely never arrive at answers for those, because that isn't its purpose.
Still, I don't feel that the fact that science isn't the only source of knowledge means that the floodgates are open for all "other ways of knowing," which is usually bullshit for "I pulled this out of my ass."
>The argument isn't that no objective truth exists, but that you can't observe society from a point of view that is neutral and unbiased, as you're part of it, and your research has a legitimizing function. Therefore, Sociology can't be done like a natural science.
I totally agree with the fact that observer bias means that, when studying social reality, we can never be "neutral." However, I feel that this means that we should be cognizant as much as possible of cognitive biases and attempt to counter them to the best of our abilities, even if it's impossible to achieve the ideal of "no bias." I feel that critiques of social science should be rooted in pointing out how samples or data or scientific explanations are biased, and that these critiques should be rooted themselves in falsifiable, scientific terms. I feel that a lot of PoMos don't do that, and just go "your data doesn't line up with my beliefs, so it's oppressive, classist, sexist, etc etc".
I also don't feel that social science is fundamentally different from natural science, just qualitatively different in the fact that there is more room for bias, variables aren't easily isolatable, and phenomena is more complex, as behaviour can't be described by universal laws on a level this macro.
I know nothing of the Frankfurt School's approach, so I'll check out what you mentioned. Thanks.
Thanks for the suggestion, I'll check it out.
Well, the Frankfurt School wasn't really on the same page as the PoMos, neither in its kriginal freudo-marxist lineup, nor in the soft-core habermasian variant.
The issue isn't avoiding bias while evaluating samples, it's that in the observation of a system, stating that there are isolated phenomena which can be evaluted one at a time is already part of a distinct ideology, thus not just biased, but actively falsifying.
>Popper and the Postpositivists
Pretty good name for a band.
Anyway, what should I read to get a handle on what those PoMos like Derrida, Lacan, Foucault, Zizek, Latour, etc. are saying? Are they saying anything I should care about, or are people who dismiss them as vague charlatans trying to impress people with non-concepts correct? What about psychoanalysis? Is that even a real thing?
Should I read shit like Sokal's critiques of PoMos, are does he just offer strawmen against positions he doesn't understand?
Even though I feel like this sort of stuff is bullshit, I feel like I have a responsibility to read it to really know that I'm not just misconstruing what these people are saying because I haven't read it.
Consequently, my reading list is full of shit I'm convinced will probably be shit, but I must read if I don't want to be the sort of shit who shits on shit without knowing shit. I mean, I feel like I even have to read Ayn Rand before I can comfortably shit on her, and I'm not looking forward to it.
Yeah, you should definitelymat least read some introduction to Foucault, because, even if it's occasionally disagreeable, it's still very interesting stuff. The same goes, to a lesser degree though, for Derrida and Butler.
That's probably the best course of action anyway when something sets off your bullshit sensors pre-emptively, read some overview of that person's thought and look for worthwhile stuff.
Concerning Rand, there's a 90-page rant within Atlas Shrugged that pretty much sums her up. I wonder if some genius already made some dough by editing it seperately.