The legitimacy crisis of science in late-modern philosophy : towards a reformational response / Renato Coletto
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This study investigates the challenges to the legitimacy and authority of scientific research in late modern philosophy of science. The author suggests that the different challenges to the legitimacy of science have led to relativism and amount to a crisis. Keeping in mind the positivist background, he illustrates the legitimacy crisis of science in the period from Popper to the present. In particular his analysis focuses on the "historical school" (Kuhn, Feyerabend etc.) in philosophy of science. The main question of this study is: what are the causes and the nature of the legitimacy crisis emerging in the contemporary philosophical assessment of science? To answer this question, a few specific challenges to the legitimacy of science emerging in particular areas are analysed: for example the difficulties of anchoring scientific certitude to its proper object of study, the loss of objectivity, growing scepticism about the possibility of communication and scientific progress. After substantiating the gradual emergence of relativist and sceptical approaches in the abovementioned areas, this study provides a "diagnosis" aiming at identifying the causes of the crisis. The humanist ground motive of nature and freedom and the choice of anchoring scientific certainty either in the subject or in the object of knowledge are considered the main sources of the crisis. They lead to arbitrary absolutisations of particular aspects of the scientific enterprise and (in the case of subjectivist approaches) to sceptical approaches to the possibility of scientific objectivity, communication and progress. This study also indicates a few possible resources, available in the reformational tradition, to counteract the legitimacy crisis of science. The main resource indicated in this study is the recognition of the structural order for reality, which is accessible to scientific analysis, "constrains" scientific research but also constitutes a common ground for researchers. Other important resources are the recognition of the link between scientific and pre-scientific knowledge and the acknowledgment that universality and individuality are traits of everything that exists.
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