Degeneration and Entropy

Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 36 (2):123-155 (2022)
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Abstract

[Accepted for publication in Lakatos's Undone Work: The Practical Turn and the Division of Philosophy of Mathematics and Philosophy of Science, special issue of Kriterion: Journal of Philosophy. Edited by S. Nagler, H. Pilin, and D. Sarikaya.] Lakatos’s analysis of progress and degeneration in the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes is well-known. Less known, however, are his thoughts on degeneration in Proofs and Refutations. I propose and motivate two new criteria for degeneration based on the discussion in Proofs and Refutations – superfluity and authoritarianism. I show how these criteria augment the account in Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes, providing a generalized Lakatosian account of progress and degeneration. I then apply this generalized account to a key transition point in the history of entropy – the transition to an information-theoretic interpretation of entropy – by assessing Jaynes’s 1957 paper on information theory and statistical mechanics.

Author's Profile

Eugene Chua
California Institute of Technology

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