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CAN CHANGES BE MADE IN THE GOALS AND PRINCIPLES OF SCIENCE BE EXPLAINED BY THE SOCIO-CULTURAL FACTORS AT WORK DURING THAT TIME Philosophical analysis and scientific practice The arguments about these rival ontological and epistemological views cannot be safely left or judged without first looking more closely at the complex relationship between the general analytical interests of philosophers and the more specific intellectual concerns of working scientists themselves For the degree to which each view about the reality of scientific entities and facts can carry conviction depends substantially on what branches of science are at issue As the focus of philosophical attention has shifted historically from one scientific terrain to another so too have the relative degrees of plausibility of these rival positions varied Scientific enterprise will be considered that which has dominated recent debate in the philosophy of science viz the formal structures of scientific theory and the processes of conceptual change It will soon be clear that the philosophical problems to which these two aspects respectively give rise are correlative and complementary--the one being static the other being dynamic Since 1920 most analytical philosophers of science have explicitly based their program on a presupposition inherited from Descartes and Plato viz that the intellectual content of any natural science can be expressed in a formal propositional system having a definite essential logical structure--what a leading American philosopher of science Ernest Nagel concisely called the structure of science in his book of that title 1961 One immediate inspiration of this program was the work of David Hilbert a late 19th-century mathematician To make the methods of mathematical proof more explicit and more perspicuous and thus more rigorous Hilbert employed the techniques of formalization a reduction to relations while disregarding the nature of the relata and axiomatization a tracing of entailments back to accepted axiomsThe same techniques were taken over into the philosophy of mathematics by a pioneer German logician Gottlob Frege and into symbolic logic
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