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The Dialectic of Discovery
Jason, Gary James
Department of Study
Degree Granting Institution
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
This study, The Dialectic of Discovery, addresses the long-standing debate about the possibility of a "logic of discovery." Regarding this issue, four interlocking theses are defended. The first thesis is that there is indeed a logic of discovery, namely, dialectic, which is an extension of underlying inference ("assertoric") and question ("erotetic") logics.
The second thesis is that this fact has been overlooked because the view of knowledge that has dominated Western philosophy, a view I dub "the solipsistic concept of knowledge," blinds us to it.
The third thesis is that this dialectic is to a large degree formalizable, and that it ought to be formalized to the extent possible.
The fourth thesis is that the main block to complete formalizability is a particular sort of context-dependency, namely dependence upon the physical conditions under which research is conducted; however, this particular context-sensitivity, this irreducible pragmatic element, is isolatable within the dialectical system as the rules of strategy (rather than the rules which define the game). Nature does not dictate what is rational, but she does dictate how that rationality should be applied if it is to be successful.
The structure of the work is designed to present the defense of those theses as closely to their stated order as possible. In the first two chapters, I lay the groundwork for a reasonable defense of Thesis 1 by discussing both ends of the phrase "the logic of discovery." Then, in Chapter Three, I address Thesis 1 directly.
Thesis 2 is introduced in Chapter Five, and explored more fully in Chapter Fourteen.
Theses 3 and 4 require the most sustained defense. Since dialectic is an extension of underlying assetoric and erotetic components, Chapters Four and Six address assertoric matters, while Chapter Seven addresses erotetics.
The assertoric and erotetic foundations having been laid, I am able in Chapters Eight and Nine to exhibit in some detail a formal dialectic of sufficient power to explicate discovery. After exploring conceptual change (in Chapters Ten and Eleven) in the light of dialectic, we are able to address Thesis 4 directly in Chapter Thirteen.
I conclude the study by examining Thesis 2 in Chapter Fourteen.