Presuppositions and the challenge to objectivity in late-modern philosophy of science: causes and possible remedies


Humanist Philosophy
Ground Motive
Philosophy Of Science
Scientific Objectivity


The history of late-modern philosophy of science introduces us to a growing emphasis on presuppositions accompanied by a growing relativistic attitude concerning the possibility of scientific objectivity. Aspects of the latter historical developments are traced in some of the most important philosophers of science of the 20th century. An analysis of the possible causes of the phenomenon is also provided. The predominance of the freedom- pole of the humanist ground motive requires a conception of science in which the creative presuppositions of the knowing agent play an increasingly crucial role. Two “remedies” for a more balanced understanding of the role of presuppositions are indicated. The first one has to do with the recognition of a broad variety of ideological standpoints, stemming from different religious commitments. The second one recommends the recognition of the universal order for reality, which implies two consequences. First, our presuppositions do not have the power of determining our scientific observations of reality completely. Second, scientific research does not proceed only according to our presuppositional frameworks but follows a structural order. A few reflections on the nature of scientific objectivity conclude the article.

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