Reductionism and Perfectibility of Science

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Carrara, Massimiliano; Fassio, Davide
conference paper description
Nicholas Rescher, in The Limits of Science (1984), argued that: «perfected science is a mirage; complete knowledge a chimera» . He reached the above conclusion from a logical argument known as Fitch’s Paradox of Knowability. The argument, starting from the assumption that every truth is knowable, proves that every truth is also actually known and, given that some true propositions are not actually known, it concludes, by modus tollens, that there are unknowable truths. Prima facie, this argument seems to seriously narrow our epistemic possibilities and to constitute a limit for knowledge (included scientific knowledge). Rescher’s above quoted conclusion follows the same sort of reasoning. Recently, Bernard Linsky exploited a possible way to block the argument employing a type-distinction of knowledge. If the Knowability paradox is blocked, then Rescher’s conclusion cannot be drawn. After an introduction to the paradox, we suggest, in our paper, a possible way of justifying a type-solution for it in the scientific field. A noteworthy point is that the effectiveness of this solution depends on the degree of reductionism adopted in science: the given solution is available only if we do not adopt a complete reductionism in science so that there is just one kind of scientific knowledge and, consequently, of scientific justification. Otherwise Rescher's argument still works.