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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The philosophy of scientific debate traditions
by Rosenberger, Robert Joseph, Ph.D., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2008, 284; 3338165
Abstract (Summary)

In this dissertation, I develop an account of the structures and dynamics of debate in science. This account consists of a framework of concepts that identify and organize the features of scientific debates. These concepts are applied to the histories of two concrete case studies of ongoing scientific debates. Further concepts regarding the specific changes that may occur within scientific debates are abstracted from these case studies. This central concept I develop is ‘the scientific debate tradition.’ This refers the various rival positions of a scientific debate, and the relationships between them, as they change over time. I investigate the implications of these changes for our conception of scientific practice. Through the analysis of the concrete case studies, I identify a number of specific modes of debate that a tradition may take up. Changes to the relationships between rival debate positions occur as a scientific debate shifts from one mode of debate to the next. In the first chapter, I explore relevant work in the philosophy of science on traditions’ of scientific practice, especially Imre Lakatos’s notion of the ‘scientific research programme.’ The second chapter develops the notion of the scientific debate tradition and its associated framework of concepts. The third chapter offers a case study of a debate in the field of neurobiology over the nature of ‘synaptic vesicles,’ tiny organelles responsible for neurotransmission. The fourth chapter offers a case study of a debate from the field of developmental psychology over children’s ability to understand that others have separate minds and perspectives. In the final chapter, I apply the notion of the scientific debate tradition to the two case studies. From the histories of these case studies I abstract a series of concepts regarding the modes of debate which a tradition can possess.

Indexing (document details)
School: State University of New York at Stony Brook
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 69/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Neurosciences, Philosophy, Science history, Developmental psychology
Keywords: Lakatos, Imre, Philosophy of science, Scientific debate, Scientific practice, Synaptic vesicle, Theory of mind
Publication Number: 3338165
ISBN: 978-0-549-92811-9
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