Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Classical empiricism raised epistemological issues within a framework of dichotomies that were rarely questioned. It was assumed that statements were either normative or descriptive (and analytic or synthetic); terms were either observational or theoretical; meaning is either given atomically or holistically; truth was either radically independent of language (correspondence) or radically dependent upon it (coherence); and the entities postulated by scientific theories are constructed (instrumentalism) or are theory-independent (metaphysical realism). Modern philosophers have questioned the tenability of these distinctions and attempts have been made to relinquish many of them.;I argue that, instead of discarding them, we have to recognize these dichotomies as complementary aspects of epistemic notions, in the same way that the wave-particle dichotomy reflects complementary aspects of quanta. Epistemology has to be reconstructed upon a framework of new concepts that explicitly recognize epistemic complementarity. The basic unit of experience is a Gestalt (a theoretically structured pattern of given sense-data); statements are Expectations (normative and descriptive at the same time); terminological meaning is Holarchic (with atomistically given observational aspect, and holistically offered theoretical aspect); truth is Representation (which has a double dependence on language and the world); and the objects of science are Perspectival (being simultaneously constructed and discovered). Epistemic complementarity is ultimately traceable to the dependence of experience on both language and the world.;These notions enable us to construct a theory of scientific method and scientific rationality that resolves many crucial issues in contemporary philosophy of science. Radically different theories can be compared by appealing to a background language and experience constructed out of them (rather than a language independent of the competing theories); scientific revolutions can be recognized as possessing both cumulative and disjunctive features (which can be identified precisely through the background language); the internalist and externalist accounts of science can be seen as dual perspectives on the content of scientific theories (rather than incompatible alternatives); a theory of internal scientific rationality requires the deployment of dialectical methods (and not only the traditional deductive and inductive techniques).
Balasubramaniam, Arunasalam, "Epistemic Complementarity And Scientific Rationality" (1983). Digitized Theses. 1269.