Full Text

conventionalism


Subject Philosophy

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405106795.2004.x


Extract

P hilosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science, ethics The view that human conventions rather than independent realities or necessities shape our basic concepts of the world, scientific theories, ethical principles, and the like. On this view, scientific laws and theories are conventions or postulates, rather than absolute and independent. They depend on our choices from among alternative ways of organizing and explaining experience. Human arrangements are the measure and final source of their authority. We choose a given theory on the basis of its convenience or simplicity, but it is not any more true than the rival theories. This position developed out of Kant 's claims that the laws we find in the natural world are dependent on the character of our rational human minds and on our conceptual structure, although Kant argued that the basic concepts and principles so originating were unique and not open to successful challenge. The major proponent of conventionalism was H. Poincaré , who held that mathematical theorems are relative to our framework of knowledge, are subject to revision, and may even be totally abandoned. The difference between Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry is not factual but conventional. The only necessary limitation on our choice of theorems and laws is the avoidance of contradiction. Other proponents include E. Mach , P. Duhem , and, in some respects, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

Log In

You are not currently logged-in to Blackwell Reference Online

If your institution has a subscription, you can log in here:

 

     Forgotten your password?

Find out how to subscribe.

Your library does not have access to this title. Please contact your librarian to arrange access.


[ access key 0 : accessibility information including access key list ] [ access key 1 : home page ] [ access key 2 : skip navigation ] [ access key 6 : help ] [ access key 9 : contact us ] [ access key 0 : accessibility statement ]

Blackwell Publishing Home Page

Blackwell Reference Online ® is a Blackwell Publishing Inc. registered trademark
Technology partner: Semantico Ltd.

Blackwell Publishing and its licensors hold the copyright in all material held in Blackwell Reference Online. No material may be resold or published elsewhere without Blackwell Publishing's written consent, save as authorised by a licence with Blackwell Publishing or to the extent required by the applicable law.

Back to Top