Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


The scientific ideology is identified as that perspective which considers knowledge to consists in propositional truths or representations of reality--knowledge-that--and which grants ultimate epistemic authority to science. A critical alternative view (the "praxical perspective") is presented in which know-how, modeled after simple skills, is epistemologically primary. The view of know-how developed in the context of simple skills is used as a model to re-conceptualize higher-order abilities--such as the achievements of modern science and technology--as forms of skilled practice rather than applied theoretical knowledge. In order to accomplish this, non-representational views of perception and language are presented. Perception is characterised as the acquired skill of learning how to recognize a situation as meaningfully structured for potential action. This view, in which learning how to do something is prior to the recognition of meaningful structures, is extended to cover the process of scientific discovery. A Wittgenstein-inspired view of language as practice is presented in order to undercut the tendency to model knowledge on propositional statements. This view characterises theoretical and factual statements as manifestations of enacted know-how rather than cognitive objects corresponding to features of the world. These elements are combined into a view of science as practice which makes sense of the progress and rationality of science without succumbing to many of the problems endemic to the perspective of the scientific ideology. Finally, it is argued that by situating knowledge in know-how rather than knowledge-that, the praxical perspective undercuts the notion that science embodies a special epistemic method. Science is characterised as one form of skilled practice among other possibilities, rather than the one correct route to true knowledge.



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