The Limits Of Science: Revised Edition (Google eBook)

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University of Pittsburgh Pre, Dec 15, 1999 - Science - 282 pages
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Perfected science is but an idealization that provides a useful contrast to highlight the limited character of what we do and can attain. This lies at the core of various debates in the philosophy of science and Rescher’s discussion focuses on the question: how far could science go in principle—what are the theoretical limits on science? He concentrates on what science can discover, not what it should discover. He explores in detail the existence of limits or limitations on scientific inquiry, especially those that, in principle, preclude the full realization of the aims of science, as opposed to those that relate to economic obstacles to scientific progress. Rescher also places his argument within the politics of the day, where "strident calls of ideological extremes surround us," ranging from the exaggeration that "science can do anything"—to the antiscientism that views science as a costly diversion we would be well advised to abandon. Rescher offers a middle path between these two extremes and provides an appreciation of the actual powers and limitations of science, not only to philosophers of science but also to a larger, less specialized audience.
  

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 Question Dynamics and Problems of Scientific Completeness
5
2 Questions and Scientific Progress
19
3 The Instability of Science
29
4 Complexity Escalation as an Obstacle to Completing Science
43
5 Against Convergentism
66
6 Question Dynamics and Problems of Scientific Completeness
87
7 The Unpredictability of Future Science
94
10 The Theoretical Unrealizability of Perfected Science
145
11 The Practical Infeasibility of Perfecting Science
166
12 Can Computers Overcome Our Limitations?
177
13 Extraterrestrial Science Could Aliens Overcome Our Limitations?
197
14 The Limits of Quantification in Human Affairs
223
15 The Limited Province of Natural Science
241
Notes
253
Index
279

8 Against lnsolubilia
111
9 The Price of an Ultimate Theory
128
Back Cover
283
Copyright

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About the author (1999)

Nicholas Rescher is Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pittsburgh, and chairman of the Center for Philosophy of Science. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he has served as president of the Eastern Division of the American Philosophical Association, the Leibniz Society of North America, the Charles S. Peirce Society, the American Catholic Philosophical Association, and the Metaphysical Society of America. Rescher is the author or editor of more than one hundred books, including Aporetics: Rational Deliberation in the Face of Inconsistency, and Ignorance: (On the Wider Implications of Deficient Knowledge).

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