You are here

Scientific Objectivity and Its Contexts

Evandro Agazzi
Publication Date: 
Number of Pages: 
[Reviewed by
Charles Ashbacher
, on

Nothing reads quite like academic philosophy: it is generally dense and the sentences are often long, containing the technical terms of the discipline. This book does not deviate from that format. Yet the points made throughout the book are critical to the study of all forms of science.

In its most pure form, science is a search for the truth that is as free as possible of natural human contexts assigned to a situation based on the searcher’s personal background. Every person has a personal bias of some form and the key phrases such as “theory construction” and “concept formation” have to be precisely understood.

The first part of the book is devoted to developing a theory of scientific objectivity, to quote from the back cover, “… the adoption of operational criteria designed within the particular perspective under which any single science considers reality.” I could not come up with a phrase that better encapsulated and expressed the tone of the first section.

The second part of the book is also accurately summed up by a sentence on the back cover.

The awareness of such a “historical determinacy” of science justifies including in the philosophy of science the problems of ethics of science, relations of science with metaphysics, and social dimensions of science that overstep the traditional restriction of the philosophy of science to an epistemology of science.

This is a powerful sentence reflective of great intentions, and in general they are successfully executed. There are no doubt some philosophers that will argue the thoroughness of the treatment or debate whether the points are fully justified, but few can successfully argue the validity of raising the points for discussion.

This is not a book that is read quickly, my limit was approximately forty pages at a sitting. It is deep and detailed, raising points that form the foundations of science.

Charles Ashbacher splits his time between consulting with industry in projects involving math and computers, teaching college classes and co-editing The Journal of Recreational Mathematics. In his spare time, he reads about these things and helps his daughter in her lawn care business.