Epistemic Stances

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What are the epistemic stances that can be taken by epistemic agents towards different epistemic elements?

Epistemic agents (e.g. individual scientists, scientific communities) can take different epistemic stances (e.g. acceptance, use, pursuit, employment) towards different epistemic elements (e.g. theories, methods). In principle, the types of stances that can be taken towards a theory may or may not be the same as the types of stances that can be taken towards methods of theory assessment. Thus, it must be clarified which types of stances can be taken towards epistemic elements of any given type.

The epistemic stance that an epistemic agent can take towards methods of theory assessment is limited to employment. So, a method can only be either employed or not employed by an epistemic agent 1p. 31.

On the contrary, there are three epistemic stances that an epistemic agent can take towards a theory, namely, use, acceptance and pursuit. Now, taking a stance on a particular theory does not preclude the epistemic agent from simultaneously taking any of the other stances on that theory 1pp. 31-33. For example, in the 19th century, the Newtonian Physics was both accepted and used by the scientific community. Therefore, it is the case that a theory might be used even if it is the theory not accepted by the scientific community. For example, after the acceptance of General Relativity (1916), Newtonian Physics was no longer the accepted theory but it is still used 1p. 38.

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Hakob Barseghyan in 2015. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. Epistemic Stances Towards Questions - Acceptance (Rawleigh-2018) and Epistemic Stances Towards Theories - Acceptance Use and Pursuit (Barseghyan-2015) are currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available theories on the subject. Epistemic Stances Towards Questions - Acceptance (Rawleigh-2018) states "The epistemic stance that can be taken by an epistemic agent towards a question is question acceptance." Epistemic Stances Towards Theories - Acceptance Use and Pursuit (Barseghyan-2015) states "The list of possible stances towards a theory includes acceptance, use, and pursuit."

Prehistory

In the early twentieth century, many logical positivists supported a confirmationist view of theory assessment, in which theories are assessed on the basis of the balance of confirming and disconfirming evidence. In 1945, Carl Hempel, a logical empiricist and confirmationist, argued that, on such grounds, an agent might take one of three stances towards a theory, accepting it, rejecting it, or withholding judgment. 2p. 167-1683

In his Logic of Scientific Discovery (1959), 4 Karl Popper argued for a falsificationist scientific methodology, but a relatively similar set of possible stances towards theories. Scientific ideas gained acceptance when they had survived strong tests in which their unexpected novel predictions were verified, and where rejected when they failed to survive such tests. 56p. 57-74

Thomas Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1963) used a number of equally vague terms to refer to stances a community might take towards a theory, including universally received, embraced, acknowledged, and committed to. 7pp. 10-13

In Imre Lakatos's theory of scientific change individual theories were encompassed in larger assemblages called research programs. A research program consists of a family of scientific theories containing 'hard core' assumptions, which are stubbornly defended, surrounded by a protective belt of associated auxiliary assumptions, which may be modified if needed to protect the hard core. Lakatos identified two epistemic stances that epistemic agents might take toward research programs. They could be deemed either progressive or degenerating. A research program was progressive if its theories successfully predicted hitherto unexpected facts. It was degenerating if it failed to make successful bold predictions, and if its theories were intentionally fashioned so as to accommodate already known facts. 8

Larry Laudan's reticulated model of scientific change involved scientific theories, scientific methods, and scientific values, all interdependent. Methods could change along with theories, and thus epistemic agents could take stances with respect to them both. For Laudan, a theory would be regarded as accepted by an agent if that agent accepted its truth, or rejected if deemed by the agent to be false. He also proposed a new stance, that of pursuit. To pursue a theory is to work with it or explore it without committing to a belief that it is true. 69pp. 108-114

History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this question (it includes all the instances when the question was accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by a community):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 January 2016While, in this general form, the question wasn't clearly stated in The Laws of Scientific Change, it was implicit in a more specific question of Epistemic Stances Towards Theories.Yes

All Theories

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Accepted Theories

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Suggested Modifications

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Current View

In Scientonomy community, the accepted theory on the subject is Epistemic Stances Towards Questions - Acceptance (Rawleigh-2018). It states: "The epistemic stance that can be taken by an epistemic agent towards a question is question acceptance." Just like theories, questions too can be accepted or unaccepted. A question can be accepted by an agent at one period at not accepted by another. Consider, for instance, the question "what is the distance to the sphere of the stars?" which was once accepted as a legitimate topic of inquiry, but is no longer accepted. Similarly, the question "what is the mechanism of evolution of species?" is accepted nowadays, but wasn't accepted in the 17th century. Thus, we can say that questions acceptance is the stance that epistemic agents take towards questions. Read More
In Scientonomy community, the accepted theory on the subject is Epistemic Stances Towards Theories - Acceptance Use and Pursuit (Barseghyan-2015). It states: "The list of possible stances towards a theory includes acceptance, use, and pursuit." There are three distinct stances that one can take towards a theory: Read More

Related Topics

This topic is a sub-topic of Ontology of Scientific Change. It has the following sub-topic(s):

This topic is also related to the following topic(s):

References

  1. a b c  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.
  2. ^  Losee, John. (2001) A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Oxford University Press.
  3. ^  Hempel, Carl. (1945) Studies in the Logic of Confirmation. Mind 54 (213), 1-26.
  4. ^  Popper, Karl. (1959) The Logic of Scientific Discovery. Hutchinson & Co.
  5. ^  Thornton, Stephen. (2016) Karl Popper. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/popper/.
  6. a b  Godfrey-Smith, Peter. (2003) Theory and Reality. University of Chicago Press.
  7. ^  Kuhn, Thomas. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press.
  8. ^  Lakatos, Imre. (1978) Philosophical Papers: Volume 1. The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. Cambridge University Press.
  9. ^  Laudan, Larry. (1977) Progress and Its Problems. University of California Press.

Contributors

Abdullah Sarwar (24.9%), Paul Patton (47.4%), Hakob Barseghyan (27.7%)