[FOM] methodological thesis

Marcin Mostowski m.mostowski at uw.edu.pl
Wed Apr 30 20:04:12 EDT 2008

Firstly, I noticed a small change in the moderator policy . it is acceptable 
to quote in extenso. 

Secondly, the Friedman thesis puts too much for mathematics versus 
philosophy. His claim can be formulated in a more general way: each 
pretheoretical recognized epstemic achievement is covered by some better 
theory. This is not necessarily formal first order theory, but simply a 
scientific theory in a general sense. It means in meaningful and useful way 
using mathematical methods. 

Timothy Y. Chow recalls another understanding of philosophical value. This 
is just an art of making politically and socially influential texts. He 
suggests it as one of possible counterexamples of Fridman.s claim. Another 
counterexample would be . according to him . elucidating some earlier ideas. 
Probably Friedman who does not work at philosophical faculty does not know 
that this is very common way of thinking about philosophy at philosophical 
faculties. Texts like .the Communist Manifesto. or .The Declaration of 
Independence. are treated as serious philosophical texts by many academic 
philosophers. Expositions explaining contradictory views of preferably 
(very) past scientists are preferred and dominating works in majority of 
influential academic philosophical centers. I would say a catastrophy . 
particularly in comparison with the situation about 50 years ago when you 
could talk about philosophy with such persons as Russell, Carnap, or Tarski. 
The claim that Fridman.s thesis assumes something about value of philosophy 
(as it exists as real social phenomenon) is unfortunately true. Nevertheless 
I still believe that there is something worth of living which can be 
described as investigating reality and it also can be called philosophy . 
even if in a very different sense. 

Richard Heck seemingly gives a few counterexamples. Some of them are hard to 
evaluate for me because I do not remember all the details of quoted books. I 
will comment only two of them. 

Counterexample 2: Peter Strawson, /Individuals/
As I remember it was an attempt to make an informally formulated ontology 
based on ramified type theory. Goedel a few years later presented his 
constructible sets theory in a way much better than Strawson and much more 
conclusive. This example supports rather the Friedman thesis. 

Counterexample 7: David Hume, /A Treatise of Human Nature/
This is a good example of pretheoretical work in psychology covered later by 
psychological investigations . which seems still to be at starting level of 
any good scientific theory. 

I think all the other examples can be commented in a similar sprite. These 
two I have chosen as the easiest. 

I agree with the general idea of Friedman, but in a slightly more general 
formulation replacing philosophy by prescience, and mathematics by science. 
Additionally, I am very afraid of the views on philosophy which are very 
popular and strongly reflected in this discussion. 

Marcin Mostowski 



Marcin Mostowski
Department of Logic
Institute of Philosophy
Warsaw University

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