Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Falling Cats and Falling Stones

Would it not be preferable to treat all statements and all sciences as coordinated and to abandon for good the traditional hierarchy: physical sciences, biological sciences, social sciences, and similar types of "scientific pyramidism"? We should not even look at mechanics as a nonbiological science but prefer to say more cautiously that the statements of mechanics deal in the same way with falling cats and falling stones.

Otto Neurath, "Foundations of the Social Sciences," Foundations of the Unity of Science, vol. 2. Despite some places where it gets too logical-positivist-y, it's a good essay that makes a number of excellent points; but it has historically been overshadowed by another, and vastly more famous, essay in the same volume, by someone named Thomas Kuhn.

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