Logic & Philosophy of Science Colloquium

Michael Strevens


"Scientists Don’t Know What Their Own Theories Say...
and It’s a Good Thing Too"


Causal hypotheses (causal law statements, if you like) attempt to correctly describe the causal structure of nature.  I propose an externalist account of the meaning of causal hypotheses, that is, an account on which their meaning is determined in part by factors that none of the scientists who formulate them can articulate. A consequence of this view is that scientists may not know, in some sense, what hypotheses they are proposing, and so may not know whether one of their hypotheses has been confirmed or falsified by the evidence.  This sounds strange, but on a certain understanding of the role played by causal hypotheses in the scientific enterprise, it turns out to make perfect sense.

Monday, June 20, 2005
SST 777
3 pm

Refreshments will be served