The Metaphysics of Modern Science
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In this chapter I shall generalise my argument presented in On the Metaphysics of Experimental Physics to discuss the operational metaphysics of modern experimental science. It is one of the assertions of positivism that metaphysics has nothing to do with science. However, this assertion is a myth. Experimental physics – the exemplar of positivistic science – is premised upon the operational metaphysics of mechanical realism. This metaphysics was required for the conceptual establishment of a methodology to explore Nature; it provided a unifying conception of “the physical” that underwrote the foundational principles and assumptions justifying the technological enterprise of the experimental sciences as natural sciences. Thus the natural world has become experienced in technological terms whilst technology has become conceived as being based upon natural principles. The epistemology of experimental science presupposes that only those artificial means that function according to natural law are capable of functioning at all in virtue of their utilisation of natural mechanisms. Supposedly, the only technologies that are possible are the ones that are constructed in accordance with natural law. Hence, once mechanical realism is presupposed, any possible machine is not radically different in kind from any possible natural entity. They are merely counterfactuals from the same natural laws.
KeywordsNatural Phenomenon Machine Performance Experimental Science Scientific Revolution Natural Mechanism
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