Special Issue "Logic and Science"
A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 November 2020).
Interests: Theoretical and Computational modelling; the Foundations of Physics; Physics and Maths Education; AI (Machine Learning and Automated Reasoning); Logic and the Philosophy of Science
In his book Probability Theory: The Logic of Science, E.T. Jaynes developed the compelling thesis that probability theory constituted an overarching logical framework applicable to all known sciences at the time, ranging from physics to sociology. From the point of view of the philosophy of science, one may take issue with the take-home message, i.e., probability theory as the only logic of science. Firstly, one may ask how this view fares compared to the understanding of science developed by the philosophical tradition initiated by T. Kuhn and his successors. Second, is “probability theory as the logic of science” to be understood as a prescriptive or descriptive claim? If the proposition is to be prescriptive, on what grounds can one support, or instead challenge, this prescription? If, however, it is to be descriptive, is it supported by the contemporary practice of science or by historical accounts? Third, one may note that probability theory itself refers to propositional logic: a probabilistic proposition can be true or false. Furthermore, logic itself can be construed as a science; does this mean that probability theory can explain itself? Fourth, even if probability theory were to be common (by prescription or description) to all scientific disciplines at the stages where inferences are needed, it remains that many successful theories are not framed in a probabilistic manner and usually rest on a logic of a different kind, closer to first-order logic in nature. Within this more focused context, what can be said about the logic of individual theories? For example, is the logic of General Relativity comparable to the logic of, say, Reaction Kinetics? More generally, is there any logical “thread” (e.g., entailment) relating one theory (or even a discipline) to another? Finally, when assessing the virtues of an individual scientific theory, are there any identifiable logical constraints (e.g., self-consistency is a commonly advocated one) that it must satisfy for it to be taken seriously or widely accepted by the corresponding scientific community?
By addressing the aforementioned concerns or related questions, this Special Issue of Philosophies aims to bring together logic and philosophy of science in an original and contemporary light.
Dr. Fabien Paillusson
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