Warms, Yee, and LOPO (anti-POMO)

Tue, 10 Oct 1995 10:10:49 CST

R.L. Warms states that science is a specific activity by specific people
at specific times in specific places; and he is right--partly. This
view of science-as-social-process is of course what we have gotten from
Kuhn's *The Structure of Scientific Revolutions." Unfortunately, this
idea was presented, and has been taken as, an alternative, rather than a
complement, to the view of science-as-product. The products of science
transcend the specific conditions of their creation. Nowhere is this
clearer than in deductive-nomological explanations based on unfalsified
law-like generalizations, as analyzed by logical positivism ("LOPO"?)in
general, and by Hempel in particular. By this standard, as Hempel
himself showed with his usual clarity, historical "explanations" are not
merely different, but decidedly *inferior*--and inferior not in some
obscure technical sense, but in their ability to explain what it is they
claim to be explaining; so in this sense I do not share D. Yee's opinion
that there is a species of "historical explanation" that is separate but
equal. With all due apologies to W. Vickers, then, I suggest that the
lopos give us deep insight into the products of science, which the pomos
have rejected by mistaking the process of science for science itself.
--Bob Graber