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G. Naturalism & Normativity > Daniel Nolan on "The Dangers of Pragmatic Virtue"

Daniel Nolan has a new paper on theoretical virtues and philosophy of science. Inquiry, 2014 Vol. 57, Nos. 5–6, 623–644, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0020174X.2014.967806

Abstract. Many people want to hold that some theoretical virtues—simplicity, elegance, familiarity or others—are only pragmatic virtues. That is, these features do not give us any more reason to think a theory is true, or close to true, but they justify choosing one theoretical option over another because they are desirable for some other, practical purpose. Using pragmatic virtues in theory choice apparently brings with it a
dilemma: if we are deciding what to accept on the basis of considerations that are not truth-conducive, it looks like we should either refrain from believing what we accept, and adopt some sort of instrumentalist attitude to the theories we cherish; or alternatively,
we stand charged with engaging in theoretical irrationality in our belief ormation. This paper discusses the appropriate response to this dilemma.

Note that Ttis paper complements the discussion of the relationship between personal virtues and theory virtues in the two recent volumes edited by Abrol Fairweather, including my 'Bridging a Fault Line," and Ivanova, Stump, Kidd, and Fairweather papers which also deal with the status of theory virtues as desiderata of theory choice.
December 22, 2014 | Registered CommenterGuy Axtell