Science, Concepts, and the Social Environment

Teorie Vědy / Theory of Science 33 (1):21-42 (2011)
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This paper will suggest that the work Alfred North Whitehead provides a fruitful resource for understanding the philosophical development and validity of scientific concepts through an analysis of their socio-historical location. The paper will address two key elements of Whitehead’s thought. One element is "The Bifurcation of Nature" and the paper traces the influence that this conceptual compromise has had on philosophy and science through its reinforcement of the division between the natural and the social sciences. The second element is the status of abstraction in thought and existence. The article will outline Whitehead’s argument that it is necessary to pay attention to the social environment which both enables and inhibits thought if historical epistemology is to develop novel yet analytically strong concepts.
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