William Whewell and modern philosophy of science

Alexan­der L. Niki­forov
Insti­tute of Phi­los­o­phy, Russ­ian Acad­e­my of Sci­ences

William Whewell and mod­ern phi­los­o­phy of sci­ence

Abstract. The arti­cle dis­cuss­es the method­olog­i­cal con­cep­tion of the Scot­tish thinker William Whewell, cre­at­ed in the mid­dle of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. Whewell believed that man has some innate ideas, which impos­ing on sen­so­ry per­cep­tions gen­er­ate knowl­edge. Among the fun­da­men­tal ideas that guide human knowl­edge, Whewell dis­tin­guish­es the ideas of space, time and num­ber. They are stud­ied and devel­oped by «pure» sci­ences. In oth­er sci­ences, these fun­da­men­tal ideas are com­ple­ment­ed with the ideas of causal­i­ty, envi­ron­ment, sim­i­lar­i­ties, etc. In his method­olog­i­cal con­struc­tions, Whewell relied on a thor­ough study of the his­to­ry of prac­ti­cal­ly all the devel­oped sci­ences of his time, there­fore he antic­i­pat­ed a turn towards the his­to­ry of the phi­los­o­phy of sci­ence, which took place in the sec­ond half of the twen­ti­eth cen­tu­ry. The con­cep­tion of Whewell includ­ed of idea of a hypo­thet­i­cal-deduc­tive struc­ture of sci­en­tif­ic knowl­edge, the idea of «the­o­ry-lade­ness» of facts, and empir­i­cal ver­i­fi­a­bil­i­ty as a most impor­tant cri­te­ri­on of sci­en­tif­ic nature. It is a pity that the con­cep­tion cre­at­ed by the founder of the phi­los­o­phy of sci­ence was for­got­ten for a long time.

Key­words: William Whewell, phi­los­o­phy of sci-ence, pos­i­tivism, knowl­edge, fun­da­men­tal ideas, fact, hypo­thet­i­cal-deduc­tive the­o­ry

DOI: 10.5840/dspl20192230


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