Instrumentalism in the encyclopedia Britannica

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Instrumentalism in the encyclopedia Britannica

Postby hyksos on July 20th, 2017, 6:02 pm 

Instrumentalism is a position in the philosophy of Science. It contains an entry in the encyclopedia Britannica.
Instrumentalism, in the philosophy of science, the view that the value of scientific concepts and theories is determined not by whether they are literally true or correspond to reality in some sense but by the extent to which they help to make accurate empirical predictions or to resolve conceptual problems. Instrumentalism is thus the view that scientific theories should be thought of primarily as tools for solving practical problems rather than as meaningful descriptions of the natural world. Indeed, instrumentalists typically call into question whether it even makes sense to think of theoretical terms as corresponding to external reality. In that sense, instrumentalism is directly opposed to scientific realism, which is the view that the point of scientific theories is not merely to generate reliable predictions but to describe the world accurately.


whole entry : https://www.britannica.com/topic/instrumentalism

John Dewey came to believe that a productive, naturalistic approach to the theory of knowledge must begin with a consideration of the development of knowledge as an adaptive human response to environing conditions aimed at an active restructuring of these conditions. Unlike traditional approaches in the theory of knowledge, which saw thought as a subjective primitive out of which knowledge was composed, Dewey's approach understood thought genetically, as the product of the interaction between organism and environment, and knowledge as having practical instrumentality in the guidance and control of that interaction. Thus Dewey adopted the term "instrumentalism" as a descriptive appellation for his new approach.


whole entry : http://www.iep.utm.edu/dewey/
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Re: Instrumentalism in the encyclopedia Britannica

Postby Eclogite on July 29th, 2017, 7:11 am 

And?
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Re: Instrumentalism in the encyclopedia Britannica

Postby mitchellmckain on August 1st, 2017, 12:56 am 

hyksos » July 20th, 2017, 5:02 pm wrote:Instrumentalism is a position in the philosophy of Science. It contains an entry in the encyclopedia Britannica.
Instrumentalism, in the philosophy of science, the view that the value of scientific concepts and theories is determined not by whether they are literally true or correspond to reality in some sense but by the extent to which they help to make accurate empirical predictions or to resolve conceptual problems. Instrumentalism is thus the view that scientific theories should be thought of primarily as tools for solving practical problems rather than as meaningful descriptions of the natural world. Indeed, instrumentalists typically call into question whether it even makes sense to think of theoretical terms as corresponding to external reality. In that sense, instrumentalism is directly opposed to scientific realism, which is the view that the point of scientific theories is not merely to generate reliable predictions but to describe the world accurately.


Hmmmm... I always feel a bit skeptical when I see someone dictating what the value of something is. Value is generally such a subjective measure. So, my immediate inclination is to suggest that people can find whatever value they want in things, whether scientific or otherwise. As an objective enterprise, I would hardly think it appropriate for science to playing the role of assigning value to things. But perhaps this is just an issue of semantics and I would prefer saying this in a different way....

How about just sticking to the simple observation of what role scientific concepts and theories play in the human activity of scientific inquiry and leave all this value stuff at the door? Even in terms of utility, I think concepts and theories have a greater variety of uses that the ones dictated here. Solving practical problems is a bit vague, but I can certainly specify more uses to concepts and theories than predicting the results of experiments. Other uses include visualization, classification, description, making connections to other fields, education methods, connections to experience, formalism, symbolism, self-checking, and approximation.

But perhaps the point is this... I have often put forward the claim that the objectivity in science derives from the specification of written procedures which anyone can follow to get the same results. I suppose this can be considered to be saying something similar to this definition of instrumentalism. But is this really the same thing? It would be if we can say that all the value of science is in the source of its objectivity. In that case, all the other uses I have listed would indeed have a somewhat questionable value in the sense that we would consider such things with a grain of salt, so to speak. I have to agree that this all sounds quite reasonable, and so once again I am finding myself rather approximate to being an instrumentalist.

On the other hand, it is quite often the case that what really puts people in philosophical categories like this is not the technical definitions but the reasoning process which they follow. ???

hyksos » July 20th, 2017, 5:02 pm wrote:
John Dewey came to believe that a productive, naturalistic approach to the theory of knowledge must begin with a consideration of the development of knowledge as an adaptive human response to environing conditions aimed at an active restructuring of these conditions. Unlike traditional approaches in the theory of knowledge, which saw thought as a subjective primitive out of which knowledge was composed, Dewey's approach understood thought genetically, as the product of the interaction between organism and environment, and knowledge as having practical instrumentality in the guidance and control of that interaction. Thus Dewey adopted the term "instrumentalism" as a descriptive appellation for his new approach.


This is beginning to sound like it has many similarities to my consideration of instrumentalism in the other thread...
mitchellmckain » July 7th, 2017, 8:43 pm wrote:1. I reject the definition of knowledge as justified true belief because it is mostly hot air. Nobody believes things they think are either unjustified or untrue. Therefore such a definition is made for only one purpose -- to impose your own beliefs on other people with the presumption that yours are true and justified while those of others are not.

2. I, therefore, define knowledge as the end of a spectrum of belief from guess to mere opinion to that which you live your life according to. Thus knowledge is distinguished from the rest of the spectrum of belief by the fact that you live by it and thus you can say you use it as an instrument in living. I see this as the only tangible measure of certainty...
...
4. I extend the definition of knowledge in 2 to science by claiming that theory becomes knowledge and fact when it becomes a routine tool or instrument for scientific inquiry.
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