Questions of Science and Metaphysics

  • Joseph Agassi
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 28)


The idea of science propounded here is a combination of two views. First, the Cartesian or rationalistic view, or the deductivist view, of science as subordinate to metaphysics — recently revived by Meyerson, Burtt, Koyre, and others. Second, the critical view or the hypothetico-deductive view of science as Socratic dialogue par excellence — a view we owe to Sir Karl Popper. In this chapter I wish to relate both views to a new branch of philosophy, the logic of questions, or erotetic logic. I shall briefly mention what has thus far been done in the field, describe my dissatisfaction with it as not a true dialectic or a logic of Socratic dialogue, and, finally, attempt to link the more advanced (dialectical) part of the logic of questions with my view of the role of metaphysics in science. Briefly, the Socratic method is a method of critical cross-examination, i. e., of trying to find errors in a given answer by eliciting more answers to ancillary questions. This requires the ability to produce answers and to recognize a given statement as either an answer or not an answer to a given question. The analysis of answers was taken up by various authors, including C. L. Hamblin, David Harrah, Nuel Belnap, and Lennart Aquist. The question, what does one do when one has no answer to a given question? has been studied by Sylvain Brom-berger. If I understand him correctly — which he doubts — his view does not differ from mine: metaphysical theories help us devise answers to some sorts of questions and so act as selectors.


Causal Explanation Objectivist Theory Tuning Fork Correspondence Theory True Answer 
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© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Agassi

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