Pragmatic norms in science: making them explicit

Caamaño Alegre, María
October 2013
Synthese;Oct2013, Vol. 190 Issue 15, p3227
Academic Journal
The present work constitutes an attempt to make explicit those pragmatic norms successfully operating in empirical science. I will first comment on the initial presuppositions of the discussion, in particular, on those concerning the instrumental character of scientific practice and the nature of scientific goals. Then I will depict the moderately naturalistic frame in which, from this approach, the pragmatic norms make sense. Third, I will focus on the specificity of the pragmatic norms, making special emphasis on what I regard as a key idea underlying them, namely, the view, vigorously advocated by classical pragmatists like C. S. Peirce and G. Vailati, that the best test for objectivity is the test of action. Finally, I am going to put forward a tentative list of pragmatic norms that can be abstracted from a careful observation and analysis of scientific practice as provided by current philosophers of experimentation (A. Franklin and F. Steinle among others). The norms will be divided into four classes corresponding to four aspects of science in which they rule, that is, self-correction, prediction, explanation and both experimentation and computation. In the following account, the formulation of those pragmatic norms successfully governing science will be understood as a contribution that scientifically-oriented pragmatism can make to the normative naturalistic project in epistemology.


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