Doctor of Philosophy
The goal of this dissertation is to reconstruct, critically evaluate, and apply the pluralism of Paul Feyerabend. I conclude by suggesting future points of contact between Feyerabend’s pluralism and topics of interest in contemporary philosophy of science. I begin, in Chapter 1, by reconstructing Feyerabend’s critical philosophy. I show how his published works from 1948 until 1970 show a remarkably consistent argumentative strategy which becomes more refined and general as Feyerabend’s thought matures. Specifically, I argue that Feyerabend develops a persuasive case against rationalism, or the thesis that there exist normative and exclusive rules of scientific rationality. In Chapter 2, I reconstruct Feyerabend’s pluralism and detail its relationship to his humanitarianism and epistemological anarchism. I understand Feyerabend’s pluralism as the combination of the principles of proliferation and tenacity. I show the evolution and justification of these principles from Feyerabend’s early papers until the late 1970s. In Chapter 3, I defend Feyerabend’s pluralism from its most prominent criticisms. I then clarify that Feyerabend’s pluralism amounts to a conception of the logic of theory pursuit and modify his view using insights from C.S. Peirce, Pierre Duhem, and Michael Polanyi. From Peirce, I show how economic, sociological, and value-laden features of theory pursuit may be used to constrain proliferation and tenacity. From Duhem and Polanyi, I try to show the proper role of tacit knowledge within a Feyerabendian framework. Finally, I show what implications Feyerabend’s pluralism has for models of distributing funds within scientific communities. I contend that it provides a more promising model that the ‘well-ordered science’ proposal advanced by numerous philosophers and social scientists. Specifically, I aim to understand what taking Feyerabend’s pluralism seriously entails for principles of balancing funding allocation decisions and the role of peer-review in evaluating the potential success of research proposals. I conclude by suggesting future lines of research for further analyzing and applying Feyerabend’s pluralism.
Shaw, Jamie, "A Pluralism Worth Having: Feyerabend's Well-Ordered Science" (2018). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 5599.
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