The major proposed demarcation criteria for pseudo-science are .. (Lakatos a, –), an epistemic field or cognitive discipline, i.e. a. First of all. Yes, the title I’ve chosen makes me blush, but hey, I’m just following my own plan! This post springs from a tweet by Keith R Laws. At the request of the ~nanagitig committee of the Imre Fund . scientific knowledge from ignorance, science from pseudoscience? One answer .
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Imre Lakatos — was a Hungarian-born philosopher of mathematics and science who rose to prominence in Britain, having fled his native land in when the Hungarian Uprising was suppressed by Soviet tanks. Despite the star-studded array of academic lords and knights who were willing to testify on his behalf, neither MI5 nor the Special Branch seem to have trusted him, and no less a person than Roy Jenkins, the then Home Secretary, signed off on the refusal to naturalize him.
According to Google Scholar, by the 25 th of Januarythat is, just twenty-five days into the new year, thirty-three papers had been published citing Lakatos in that year alonea citation rate of over one paper per day. Introductory texts on the Philosophy of Science typically include substantial sections on Lakatos, some admiring, some critical, and many an admixture of the two see for example Chalmers and Godfrey-Smith The premier prize for the best book in the Philosophy of Science funded by the foundation of a wealthy and academically distinguished disciple, Spiro Latsis is named in his honour.
Moreover, Lakatos is one of those philosophers whose influence extends well beyond the confines of academic philosophy.
Science And Pseudoscience according to Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos and me. | Writing my own user manual
Of the thirty-three papers citing Lakatos published in the first twenty-five days ofat most ten qualify as straight philosophy. The rest are devoted to such topics as educational theory, international relations, public lakatoa research with special reference to the development of ansinformatics, design science, religious studies, clinical psychology, social economics, political economy, mathematics, the history of physics and the sociology of the family. Anf, we cannot settle the matter in an Encyclopedia entry but we hope to say enough to illuminate the issue.
We are more ambivalent with respect to the Philosophy of Mathematics. Lakatos was a provocative and combative thinker, and it falsifies his thought to present it as less controversial and perhaps less outrageous than it actually was.
The acronyms are explained in the Bibliography. Imre Lakatos was a warm and witty friend and a charismatic and inspiring teacher see Feyerabend a. In the later and British phase of his career he was a dedicated opponent of Marxism who played a prominent part in opposing the socialist student radicals at the LSE inarguing passionately against the politicization of scholarship LTD; Congden But in the earlier and Hungarian phase of his life, Lakatos was a Stalinist revolutionary, the leader of a communist cell who persuaded a young comrade that it was her duty to the revolution to commit suicide, since otherwise she was likely to be arrested by the Nazis and coerced lamatos betraying the valuable young cadres who constituted the group Bandy So far from being a fallibilist, the young Lakatos displayed a cocksure self-confidence in his grasp of the historical situation, enough to exclude any alternative solution to the admittedly appalling problems that this group of young and mostly Jewish communists were facing in Nazi-occupied Ad.
After the Soviet victory, during the late s, he was an eager co-conspirator in the pseudocience of a Stalinist state, in which the denunciation of deviationists was the order of the day Bandy Lakatos was something close to a thought policeman himself, with a powerful job in the Ministry of Education, vetting university teachers for their political reliability Lakatps To the many that knew and loved the later Lakatos, some of these facts are difficult to digest.
But how relevant are they to assessing his philosophy, which was largely the product of his British years? This is an important question as Lakatos was wont to draw a Popperian distinction between World 3—the world of theories, propositions and arguments—and World 2—the psychological world of beliefs, decisions and desires.
We take our cue from the writings of Lakatos himself. Of course, there were facts about his early career that Lakatos would not have wanted to be widely known, and which he managed to keep concealed from his Western friends and colleagues during his lifetime.
But what does his official philosophy have to say about the relevance of biographical data to intellectual history? On the whole, it is a plus for a theory of [scientific] rationality if it can display the history of sdience as a relatively rational affair and a strike against it if it cannot.
Perhaps this marks an important departure from Hegel. For a true Hegelian, everything can, in the last analysis, be seen as rationally required for the self-realization of the Absolute. The answer depends on the account of rationality that we adopt and the problem situation that we take him to have been addressing.
The earth goes round the sun but it does not move with respect to the fluid medium that whirls it round the sciience, and, for Descartes, motion is defined as motion with sxience to the contiguous matter. Well the answer is not clear, but if we want to understand Descartes intellectual development we need to know that it was an important constraint on his theorizing that his views should be formally consistent with the doctrines of the Church.
And this holds whether we regard this constraint as a non-rational external factor or as a constituent of his problem situation and hence internal to a pseudoscidnce reconstruction of his intellectual development.
To answer this question we need to know something about that earlier self—either the self that secretly persisted or the self that the later Lakatos was reacting against. The regime was authoritarian, a sort of fascism-lite. After a brilliant school career, during which he won mathematics competitions and a multitude of prizes, Lakatos entered Debrecen University in Lakatos graduated in Physics, Mathematics, and Philosophy in During his time at Debrecen he became a committed communist, attending illegal underground communist meetings and, instarting his own illegal study group.
In March the Germans invaded Hungary to forestall pseudosvience attempts to negotiate a separate peace.
The Hungarian government had allied with the Axis powers, in the hopes of recovering some of the territories lost at the Treaty of Trianon in By they had begun to realize that this was a mistake. Imre [had been] very close to his mother and they were quite poor. He often blamed himself for her death and wondered if he could have saved her.
Lakatos decided that there was a risk that she would be captured and forced to betray them, hence her duty both to the group and to the cause was to commit suicide. A member of the group took her across country to Debrecen and gave her cyanide CongdenLongBandych. It does not work for the fictional Pytor Verkhovensky and it did work for the real-life Sergei Nechaev.
Chocolateby the Bolshevik writer Aleksandr Tarasov-Rodianov. This is a stirring tale of revolutionary self-sacrifice in which the hero is the chief of the local Cheka the forerunner of the KGB.
Science and Pseudo-Science
Popular in Hungary, it encouraged a romantic cult of revolutionary ruthlessness and sacrifice ;seudoscience its mostly youthful readers. How that book inspired us. How we longed to be professional revolutionaries who could be hanged several times a day in the interest of the working class and of the great Soviet Union.
As for Lakatos himself, a chance remark in his most famous paper suggests something about his attitude. One has to appreciate the sciencs attitude of our methodological falsificationist [or perhaps as he would have said in an earlier phase of his career, the conscientious Leninist]. He feels himself to be a hero who, faced with two catastrophic alternatives, dares to reflect coolly on their relative merits and [to] choose the lesser evil.
As peeudoscience of the leaders of the DEK, Lakatos agitated for the dismissal of reactionary professors from Debrecen and the exclusion of reactionary students.
Lakatos moved to Budapest in He became a graduate student at Budapest University, but spent much of his time working towards the communist sxience of Hungary. Lakatos worked chiefly in the Ministry of Education, evaluating the credentials of university teachers and making lists of those who should be dismissed as untrustworthy once the communists took over Bandy The College, and others like it, was closed in after the communist takeover.
Inafter the communist takeover was substantially complete, he gained a scholarship to undertake further study in Moscow. He was arrested in April on charges of revisionism and, after a period in the scidnce of the secret police pseudoscince, of course, torturehe was condemned to the prison camp at Recsk.
However Lakatos was probably doomed anyway. Unquestionably Syme will be vaporized, Winston thought again. He thought it with a kind of sadness, although well knowing that Syme…was fully capable of denouncing him as a thought-criminal if he saw any reason for doing so. There was something subtly wrong with Syme. There lakafos something that he lacked: You could not say that he was unorthodox.
He believed in the principles of Ingsoc, he venerated Big Brother, he rejoiced over victories, he hated heretics….
Yet a faint air of disreputability always clung to him. He said things that would have been better unsaid, he had read too many books…. Lakatos was the sort of over-zealous communist who was sometimes a couple of pamphlets ahead. After his release from Recsk in September minus several teethLakatos remained for a while, a loyal Stalinist. It was whilst working at the Mathematics Institute that he first gained access to the works of Popper.
Gradually he turned against the Stalinist Marxism that had been his creed. The very foundation of scholarly education is to foster in students and postgrads a respect for facts, for the necessity of thinking precisely, and to demand proof. Stalinism, however, branded this as bourgeois objectivism. Under the banner of partinost [Party-like] science and scholarship, we saw a vast experiment to create a science without facts, without proofs. This was the struggle against empiricism [Laughter and applause].
But Lakatos was not just explicitly repudiating Stalinism. But that was pretty much the complaint of early revisionists such as Bernstein see Kolakowski Lakatos left Hungary in November after the Soviet Union crushed the short-lived Hungarian revolution. He walked across the border into Austria with his wife and her parents.
Even his friendship with Feyerabend and his friendship and subsequent bust-up with Popper were very much work-related.
In Britain his academic career was meteoric. By he was Professor of Logic, with a worldwide reputation as a philosopher of science. During the student revolts of the s, which in Britain pseudosicence centred on the LSE, Lakatos became an establishment figure.
These were subsequently combined in a posthumous book and published, with additions, in What Lakatos does not make so much of though he does not conceal it either is that in his view the development of mathematics is also much more like the development of thought in general as analysed by Hegel than Hegel himself supposed.
Thus there is a certain sense in which Lakatos out-Hegels Hegel, giving a dialectical analysis of a discipline mathematics that Hegel himself pseuoscience as insufficiently dialectical see Larvor, For Lakatos, the development of mathematics should not be construed as series of Euclidean deductions where the pseudosceince of the relevant concepts has been carefully specified in advance lakatks as to preclude equivocation.
Rather, these water-tight deductions from well-defined premises are the perhaps temporary end-points of an evolutionary, and indeed a dialecticalprocess in which the constituent concepts are initially ill-defined, open-ended or ambiguous but become sharper and more precise in the context of a protracted debate.
Lakatos oseudoscience also keen to display the development of mathematics as a rational affair even though the proofs to begin with are often lacking in logical rigour and the key concepts are often open-ended and unclear. The idea—expressed so clearly by Seidel [and clearly endorsed by Lakatos himself]—that a proof can be respectable without being flawless, was a revolutionary one inand, unfortunately, still sounds revolutionary today.
The counterexample is a solid bounded by a pair of nested cubes, one of which is inside, but does not touch the other:.
Sir, your composure baffles me. A single counterexample refutes a conjecture as effectively as ten. The pseudkscience and its proof have completely misfired. You have to surrender. Scrap the scince conjecture, forget about it and try a sciencw new approach.
I am interested in proofs even if they do not accomplish their intended task. Columbus did not reach India but he discovered something quite interesting.