Rescher and Kant: Some Common Themes in Philosophy of Science

  • Robert E. Butts
Part of the Philosophical Studies Series in Philosophy book series (PSSP, volume 15)


As an eccentric, unrepentant latter day Kantian I find Nicholas Rescher’s philosophy of science an embarrassment of riches. All of the old Kantian philosophical delights are there to be found. Science is systematization; law- likeness (the nomic necessity and hypothetical force of reputed laws) is mind- dependent or theory-dependent; the restricted idealism of Rescher’s talk about “conceptual frameworks”; even (what I, unlike others, take to be an essential ingredient of proper Kantianism) an appeal to pragmatic considerations as decisive in choosing between methodologies at the level of specific sciences. Rescher wants to take the implied “instrumentalism” many steps farther. We will have to investigate the claim Rescher makes concerning technological success as decisive in choosing between explanatory frameworks. But for now I want to go on record as thinking that when Peirce and Rescher talk about the “economy of research” in a kind of decision-theoretic context, the motivation, at one level., namely the level of preferring one methodology for, say, biophysics over another, is completely congruent with my way of reading Kant.


Scientific Explanation Scientific Progress Explanatory Framework Qualified Idealism Qualified Realism 
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  1. Kant, Immanuel, The Critique of Pure Reason.. Trans. Norman Kemp Smith, ( Macmillan, London, 1950 ).Google Scholar
  2. Rescher, Nicholas, Scientific Explanation., ( Macmillan, New York and London, 1970 ).Google Scholar
  3. Rescher, Nicholas, Scientific Progress, A Philosophical Essay on the Economics of Research in Natural Science., ( Blackwel’s, Oxford and University of Pittsburgh Press, 1978 ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert E. Butts
    • 1
  1. 1.The University of Western OntarioCanada

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