The Role of Inversion in the Genesis, Development and the Structure of Scientific Knowledge

This is a long essay submitted for my graduation to the Ph.D. degree at IIT Kanpur.

The main thrust of the argument of this thesis is to show the possibility of articulating a method of construction or of synthesis–as against the most common method of analysis or division–which has always been (so we shall argue) a necessary component of scientific theorization. This method will be shown to be based on a fundamental synthetic logical relation of thought, that we shall call inversion–to be understood as a species of logical opposition, and as one of the basic monadic logical operators.

This thesis can be viewed as a response to Larry Laudan’s challenge, which is based on the claim that “the case has yet to be made that the rules governing the techniques whereby theories are invented (if any such rules there be) are the sorts of things that philosophers should claim any interest in or competence at.” The challenge itself would be to show that the logic of discovery (if at all formulatable) performs the epistemological role of the justification of scientific theories.¬† I propose to meet this challenge head on: a) by suggesting precisely how such a logic would be formulated; b) by demonstrating its epistemological relevance (in the context of justification) and c) by showing that a) and b) can be carried out without sacrificing the fallibilist view of scientific knowledge.

OBJECTIVES: I have set three successive objectives: one general, one specific, and one sub-specific, each one related to the other in that very order. (A) The general objective is to indicate the clear possibility of renovating the traditional analytico-synthetic epistemology. By realizing this objective, I attempt to widen the scope of scientific reason or rationality, which for some time now has perniciously been dominated by pure analytic reason alone. In order to achieve this end I need to show specifically that there exists the possibility of articulating a synthetic (constructive) logic/reason, which has been considered by most mainstream thinkers either as not articulatable, or simply non-existent. (B) The second (specific) task is to respond to the challenge of Larry Laudan by demonstrating the possibility of an epistemologically significant generativism. In this context I will argue that this generativism, which is our suggested alternative, and the simplified structuralist and semantic view of scientific theories, mutually reinforce each other to form a single coherent foundation for the renovated analytico-synthetic methodological framework. (C) The third (sub-specific) objective, accordingly, is to show the possibility of articulating a synthetic logic that could guide us in understanding the process of theorization. This is realized by proposing the foundations for developing a logic of inversion, which represents the pattern of synthetic reason in the process of constructing scientific definitions.

Full Essay in PDF format

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