Scientiﬁc progress depends crucially on scientiﬁc discoveries. Yet the topic of scientiﬁc discoveries has not been central to debate in the philosophy of science. This book aims to remedy this shortcoming. Based on a broad reading of the term “science” (similar to the German term “Wissenschaft ”), the book convenes experts from different disciplines who reﬂect upon several intertwined questions connected to the topic of making scientiﬁc discoveries.
Among these questions are the following: What are the preconditions for making scientiﬁc discoveries? What is it that we (have to) do when we make discoveries in science? What are the objects of scientiﬁc discoveries, how do we name them, and how do scientiﬁc names function? Do dis-coveries in, say, physics and biology, share an underlying structure, or do they differ from each other in crucial ways? Are other ﬁelds such as theology and environmental studies loci of scientiﬁc discovery? What is the purpose of making scientiﬁc discoveries? Explaining nature or reality? Increasing scientiﬁc knowledge? Finding new truths? If so, how can we account for instructive blunders and serendipities in science?
In the light of the above, the following is an encompassing question of the book: What does it mean to make a discovery in science, and how can scientiﬁc discoveries be distinguished from non-scientiﬁc discoveries?
This book examines philosophical approaches to linguistic vagueness, a puzzling feature of natural language that gives rise to the ancient Sorites Paradox and challenges classical logic and semantics.
The Sorites, or Paradox of the Heap, consists in three claims: (1) One grain of sand does not make a heap. (2) One billion grains of sand do make a heap. (3) For any two amounts of sand differing by at most one grain: either both are heaps of sand, or neither one is. The third claim is rendered plausible by an initial conviction that vague predicates like ‘heap’ tolerate small changes. However, the repeated application of a tolerance principle to the second claim yields the further proposition that one grain of sand does make a heap – which contradicts claim number one. Consequently, many philosophers reject or modify tolerance principles for vague predicates.
Inga Bones reassesses prominent responses to the Sorites and defends a Wittgensteinian dissolution of the paradox. She argues that vague predicates are, indeed, tolerant and discusses how this finding relates to the paradox itself, to the notion of validity and to the concept of a borderline case.