• art of science;
  • semantic normativity;
  • scientific concept formation;
  • choice of theory
  • Wissenschaftskunst;
  • semantische Normativität;
  • wissenschaftliche Begriffsbildung;
  • Theoriewahl


Philosophy of the Art of Science. Historical Remarks on the Significance of Rules in Scientific Language. This paper undertakes first steps toward a ‘Philosophy of the Art of Science’ from a History of Science and Philosophy of Language perspective. Traditionally it is understood that Philosophy of Science assesses science as to the validity of its methods and to the question of how it is that we hold its claims to be true. However, the range of presuppositions here is considerable: Roughly, it spans from Gottlob Frege's ‘The True’ (das Wahre) as the aim of scientific inquiry on the one end, to Paul Feyerabend's pluralistic understanding of science in a democratic society on the other. Despite this profound difference, however, we can nonetheless detect some similarity between them. Both hold science to be a normative endeavor: Frege thinks we ought to strive for true thoughts as somewhat independent ontological entities; Feyerabend thinks we ought to strive for a pragmatic humanism that takes the historicity of our knowledge into account. But while Frege ventured to show that natural language can benefit from insights drawn from the normative logic of formalized languages, Feyerabend discounted the idea of formalized language altogether, but with no less normative verve in regard to our scientific concept formation. Hence the combining question is whether scientific concept formation is indeed a rule-governed behavior, or, put more generally, whether semantic content as such is normative. Guided by this question, the present paper draws a line from Frege through Russell, Wittgenstein, Carnap, and Quine, to those authors who follow or refute Saul Kripke's Wittgensteinian notion of semantic normativity in the most recent discussion of today. However, the paper does not proceed chronologically, but rather thematically along the major lines of argument. Hence after a brief survey of Feyerabend's philosophy of scientific concept formation (I), we explore Frege and his legacy on semantic normativity (II), and investigate the route that eventually led to present day semantic rule-skepticism (III). We conclude with Carnap's ‘Principle of Tolerance’ combined with Feyerabend's notion of Science as an Art, parallels of which we can even find in Kant's third Critique (IV).