Homework 3

Phil. 125, Prof. Dowden





Answer all questions in order. Place each answer on a separate sheet of paper, and devote no more than one sheet, typed double space, to each answer.


1. Discuss what you consider to be philosophically most significant about the following passage:

  • Philosophers of science are especially attuned to finding assumptions that others rely upon, and they are attuned to uncovering just how certain these people can be in accepting those assumptions. For example, science books say there are 60 seconds in a minute. Many scientists are absolutely certain that there are 60 seconds in a minute. Yet scientists cannot rule out the possibility that in some places on earth there might be 62 seconds per minute or perhaps 63. Definitely there aren't always 60 in every frame of reference. After all, Einstein's special theory of relativity implies that time is relative, doesn't it? But Einstein's theory is very well confirmed, and it implies that in some reference frames there are more and in some reference frames less than 60 seconds per minute. So, scientists should be more cautious when they tell others that there are 60 seconds in a minute.
  • 2. Describe Paul Churchland's criticisms of Paul Feyerabend's argument for tolerance in regard to research in parapsychology. Begin by stating Feyerabend's argument. [Hint: Robert Brown, Kinetic Theory of Heat]

    3. Here are some suggested candidates for pseudosciences: astrology, alchemy, phrenology, parapsychology, mesmerism, Social Darwinism, eugenics, psychoanalysis (Freudianism), creation science, dialectical materialism (Marxism). What are Thagardís reasons for putting astrology on this list?