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Quasi-Truth, Paraconsistency, and the Foundations of Science

Otávio Bueno and Newton C. A. da Costa
Synthese
Vol. 154, No. 3, New Trends in the Foundations of Science (Feb., 2007), pp. 383-399
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27653465
Page Count: 17
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Quasi-Truth, Paraconsistency, and the Foundations of Science
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Abstract

In order to develop an account of scientific rationality, two problems need to be addressed: (i) how to make sense of episodes of theory change in science where the lack of a cumulative development is found, and (ii) how to accommodate cases of scientific change where lack of consistency is involved. In this paper, we sketch a model of scientific rationality that accommodates both problems. We first provide a framework within which it is possible to make sense of scientific revolutions, but which still preserves some (partial) relations between old and new theories. The existence of these relations help to explain why the break between different theories is never too radical as to make it impossible for one to interpret the process in perfectly rational terms. We then defend the view that if scientific theories are taken to be quasi-true, and if the underlying logic is paraconsistent, it's perfectly rational for scientists and mathematicians to entertain inconsistent theories without triviality. As a result, as opposed to what is demanded by traditional approaches to rationality, it's not irrational to entertain inconsistent theories. Finally, we conclude the paper by arguing that the view advanced here provides a new way of thinking about the foundations of science. In particular, it extends in important respects both coherentist and foundationalist approaches to knowledge, without the troubles that plague traditional views of scientific rationality.

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