Re: [OPE] epistemological and scientific questions

From: Dave Zachariah <>
Date: Sat Dec 13 2008 - 06:22:57 EST

on 2008-12-11 18:48 wrote:
> To put it into a question whom do you rely on in your theory of scince
> I have still to clarify many questions in detail concerning the theory
> of models. But I am not very fond of models. I prefer rather to use
> the concept of mirror. Mirror theory reflects social
> structures,relations and their tendencies by generalising and putting
> them into categories.

Other than being a 'realist', I can't really say that I rely on a
particular theory of science. My views are mainly derived from a general
interest in the evolution of science and of physics in particular.
However, I suppose they are close to those of Lakatos and Bhaskar.

I am not suggesting a "theory of models", rather I'm using the word
'model' (as in a toy-model) as an analogy for what a scientific theory
is. Models are never 'true' or 'false' but 'more' or 'less accurate';
they can improve and we can rank some models as better than others
according to some criteria. (A very good summary by Jennings, who is a
physicist I believe, is attached.) The analogy of a 'mirror' is very
misleading, especially if one considers the evolution of science.

> I would be interested in what you say: "historical materialism
> provides a general framework for developing such models". Can you say
> a bit more on this?

I was being quite simple really: historical materialism can be thought
of as a framework (or at its finest moments, a 'research program' in the
style of Lakatos) to generate testable theories, i.e. models that
predict observations. E.g. in the context of the previous post; theories
about the evolution of the working-class under deindustrialisation;
capital investment under stagnant profits; conditions for structural
crises and the likelihood of their outcomes etc. As time progresses
there is a growing historical record on which these theories can be tested.

//Dave Z
ope mailing list
Received on Sat Dec 13 06:24:55 2008

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