Doubt and Certainty

  • Derek L. Phillips


In the previous chapter I suggested that scientists can be seen as formulating alternative world-views or ‘possibilities’. These possibilities constitute new ways of creating and looking at particular worlds: the worlds of social, psychological, biological, chemical or physical phenomena. Further, I have argued that for a world-view or possibility to constitute ‘scientific’ knowledge or truth, it is necessary that it be warranted as knowledge or truth by particular groups of people who form scientific communities. The process by which truth- and knowledge-claims are granted scientific status, I have emphasised, involves persuasion, which itself relies heavily on argumentation and rhetoric.


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  1. 3.
    Harold Garfinkel, Studies in Ethnomethodology (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1967); Harvey Sachs, mimeographed lectures, University of California, Irvine (D.d.).Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Ibid.; Thomas P. Wilson, ‘Conceptions of Interaction and Forms of Sociological Explanation’, American Sociological Review 35 (1970) p. 700.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 6.
    I have discussed this at greater length elsewhere. Derek L. Phillips, Abandoning Method (San Francisco and London: Jossey-Bass, 1973).Google Scholar
  4. Paul Attewell, ‘Ethno-methodology since Garfinkel’, Theory and Society 1 (1974) pp. 179–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 8.
    R. Descartes, Philosophical Works of Descartes (trans. E. S. Haldane and G. R. T. Ross), Dover edition, 2 volumes (London: Constable, 1955).Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    G. E. Moore, ‘A Defence of Common Sense’, reprinted in Philosophical Papers (London: Allen & Unwin, 1959) pp. 32–59.Google Scholar
  7. 10.
    Anthony Kenny, Wittgenstein (London: Allen Lane, 1973).Google Scholar
  8. 62.
    Noam Chomsky, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax (Cambridge: Mass.: MIT Press, 1965).Google Scholar
  9. 82.
    Ibid., 54. Wittgenstein himself showed what he believed, what was important to him, by refusing to don the official costume prescribed for all candidates for a degree at Cambridge, and by refusing to dine at ‘High Table’ (because of the symbolic fact that the High Table itself was placed on a raised platform higher than the main floor of the dining hall where the undergraduates ate). This is reported in Allan Janik and Stephen Toulmin, Wittgenstein’s Vienna (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1973) p. 205. More importantly, Wittgenstein showed what he felt about academic philosophy by giving it up altogether for several years.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Derek L. Phillips 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derek L. Phillips
    • 1
  1. 1.University of AmsterdamThe Netherlands

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