|Edited by William E. Herfel, Wladyslaw Krajewski, Ilkka Niiniluoto and
Amsterdam-Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 1995
While the format of the IUHPS Conference was typical for a scientific meeting (thirty papers were presented over the course of three days), the workshop was a different type of affair. Given the luxury of spending ten days with researchers having similar interests, from a wide variety of cultural and intellectual backgrounds, the atmosphere was at once relaxed and intense. The spirit was one of experimenting with new ideas. A much higher percentage of the time there was devoted to informal discussion directed at exploring new territory than was spent presenting established results in formal talks. Although there were substantial disagreements, much effort was directed at synthesizing insights gained by viewing issues from a variety of perspectives. Meetings directed at conveying and criticizing researchers' latest findings serves a crucial communicational function. Nevertheless, the workshop participants welcomed the opportunity explore, and perhaps contribute to the shaping of, one another's ideas while they were in early stages of development. These proceedings cannot possibly do justice to the lively discussions, and range of viewpoints expressed (over cups of "kawa" or glasses of "piwo" — often well into the morning) at the workshop.
The loss of unity of purpose has resulted in a fair amount of disarray in the contemporary philosophy and history of science. The realization of a wide variety of possible responses to the rejection of the narrow formalist view has led to a fragmentation of science studies in a wider context as well. Scholars who study scientific processes have espoused viewpoints concerning the nature of scientific practice. There is nothing wrong with diversity, a priori, but in this case it has led to scholars with the same object of study often talking past one another, when they think they are debating. Worse yet, it has led to the wholesale ignoring of the work of some schools by those in others. We have in mind here, for example, the discussion, and non-discussion, of social studies of science by historians and philosophers of science, and vice-versa. Meanwhile, science, and the technology it begets, remains a potent tool for manipulating the material world, bending it, perhaps to the point of breaking, to suit human desires. At the same time we are facing global crises (overpopulation and global warming, to name two), to which science plays a crucial role in both problem and solution.
Much of the AFOS membership shares the view that science plays an ever-increasing role regarding both the threat to and hope for our species' survival. Hence effective management of science is crucial to solving humanity's problems at a local as well as global scale. Central to the raison d'ętre of AFOS is to become an organization facilitating the analysis of, and action on, these issues. In order to do achieve this science must be understood within its wider social context. These days, much philosophizing about science involves formal analysis of "puzzles and imperfections of scientific theories" (see C. West Churchman's excellent guest editorial in Philosophy of Science, 61 (1994) pp. 132-141). In order to achieve our aims, we must move beyond these narrowly formal analyses.
This is not to claim that we ought to abandon logical analysis.
The heyday of logical positivism, with the strong feeling of its proponents that they know both how science is to be formed as well as how it is to be analyzed philosophically, is over. But any discipline whatsoever cannot in the long run follow the rule "anything goes." There is no science and, one should add, there is no well established philosophy of science, without constraints. Among these are some quite commonly accepted standards of logical rigor. With this in mind, it may pay to take another look at the logical tradition.
It would be silly to argue, that the phenomenon of science can be accounted for in terms of logical relations among theories and those between a specific theory and the empirical evidence characteristic of it. On the other hand, formal models, thus ones whose basic conceptual apparatus is drawn from either mathematics or logic or both, have proven their usefulness in studying any phenomena whatsoever and there is no good reason to question their usefulness for studying science. What is more, to get rid of formal approach to philosophical analyses of science is to turn back to the endless philosophical disputes carried out in a language which does not allow anybody to decide any question whatsoever in a conclusive manner.
Philosophy that gives up formal techniques, becomes an endless contest of beauty. Such debates become competitions whose winner is determined by the best rhetoric. Winning such debates does not to result in progress of inquiry. Ironically, the claim that science is not cumulative, fashionable among rabid anti-formalists, is fully correct when applied to the outcomes of their "scientific" debates. We are now relatively certain that we cannot reduce scientific activity to the derivation of universal laws from the axioms of a particular branch of science along with observational reports. Nevertheless, logical and mathematical models continue to play a crucial role in understanding science in its wider context. Even when this understanding is fallible, it can remain nonetheless reasonable.
The IUHPS Conference concentrated more narrowly on the role of theories and models in scientific processes. The conference was organized around the same themes as this volume: Models in Scientific Processes, Tools of Science and Unsharp Approaches in Science. The objects of analysis ranged from abstract logical models to concrete experimental models.
The above view on the relevance of the formal methods for any well done inquiry in the problems of both structure and growth of science was the main theoretical presupposition shared by the organizers of both Madralin workshop and Warsaw meetings. This viewpoint is adopted whether the analysis is confined to purely formal considerations or extended to science's social context. This book is a product of those efforts. We hope that the reader will find it of considerable interest.
For the editors,
Bill Herfel and Ryszard Wojcicki