Four Views of Science 科学觀四论

“Agassi on Science and its History 艾格思科学史论”


Four Views of Science 科学觀四论


Agassi says艾格思曰:

Reading this book[1], as almost any other work of mine, requires no special prior knowledge.  Let me repeat now all the philosophical information that I hope my readers will have some idea about as they read my works.  读我书, 不用专家, 知此四论可矣.


There are four traditions or views of science: intellectualism, empiricism, instrumentalism, and critical realism; so are four types of historians and histories of science.   科学觀四论: 理智论,經驗论,工具论, 批判實在论. 科学史亦是.


1.     Intellectualism理智論. The oldest  view of science is intellectualism: science rests on purely rational foundations, with no need to appeal to experience 科学唯心论.  Foremost thinkers from Plato through Galileo and Descartes to Kant have advocated it 伯拉图, 加里略, 迪卡儿, 康德, 表表者也.  Champions of the dominant view of science malign it 唯物论者诬蔑之.  I will reluctantly ignore it here姑且不论.    

Intellectualism fails 理智论失败了.  Each guarantee for correctness invites a guarantee for its own correctness.  This is the argument from infinite regress. 真的保证无穷后退.


2.     Empiricism 經驗論.  The dominant view of science is empiricism– science rests on experience 科学基于经验– and inductivism 归纳法 (of Francis Bacon, the father of modernism) 陪根是也.  It is the view of science as error avoidance: science disregards all tradition and relies on facts alone to guarantee the truth of its theories (or at least their high probability).  科学无错误, 摒弃传统, 独靠事实保证真理(或可靠性).

Inductivism fails too, and for the same reason for which intellectualism does.  經驗論也失败了, 理由与理智论同.


3.     工具论.  Consequently, instrumentalism (of Pierre Duhem) suggests that science is but a mathematical tool-kit杜恒以科学为数学工具箱.  Depriving scientific theories of informative content, instrumentalists are left with no view of the world 科学理论非实相, 科学只是一门数学.  They endorse some traditional or arbitrary views of the world that they shield from any possible impact from scientific discovery.  Viewing science as merely practical (as applied mathematics) they cannot possible explain its practical success.  科学只是应用数学, 却不能解释科学的实用成就.


4.        Critical Realism批判實在论.  The only serious alternative to these theories is the critical view (Karl Popper) that takes scientific theories at face value as true or false and research as the process of proposing explanatory conjectures and undertaking their tests – their attempted refutations. It is an endless process of error elimination.  朴伯以批评就是科学, 科学理论不论真假反映宇宙真实,假设解释, 测验推翻, 删除错误, 永无终止, 就是科学.  (Page xvii.)



From Science and its History: a Reassessment of the Historiography of Science.  Joseph Agassi. Published by Springer, 2008, Preface.  艾格思著<科学及其历史:科学史学重检>, 2008., 序.


KWAN Lihuen translation 关理煊翻译Canada 加拿大2009.8.23 draft 13 稿  (679 words.)



(File: Agassi on Four Views of Science 科學觀四論.)



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