I have been working on an idea for a seminar, entitled “Unity of Science,” which involves collapsing epistemology and ontology into one branch of philosophy. The paper is called, “Abstraction as Dissection of a Flat “Ontology”: The Illusiveness of Levels” (click this sentence to view paper). One of the motivations for doing this is that I think pragmatism and theory-ladenness call for it; and the two notions, themselves, seem to be naturally married by van Fraassen’s pragmatics of explanation —not to mention having been sort of suggested by Peirce. I say “sort of” because theory-ladenness hadn’t been thought of, back then.
For the project at hand, deciding whether levels that exist in scientific explanation exist, I needed to develop an argument by consilience, because I couldn’t figure out how to develop tightly packed linear argument. It seemed easier to present the bases of each notion being embraced by the paper, and then show how it all weaved together to present a flat ontology, which, then, illustrated that levels are not a part of it. Overall, most of what I wanted to bring together is there, but all of its contents are not nearly woven together to the degree that I would like. I wonder whether it won’t take another 15 pages to get it all to come together, maybe 20 pages. To the end that I argue levels are illusive, I think an acceptable job has been done, but the paper lacks any kind of polish, and will need much work on the prose. Wildly abstruse, the paper also needs to have some uniformity brought to the language; I know what I mean, but others may not.
My future plans for this project is to further develop the psycho-cognitive foundation for this paper, and possibly present it to a graduate conference. Afterward, if that works out, auguring well for this project, I will revisit this paper and decide whether to rewrite it completely, or simply make extensive revisions. This will also give me time to read Giere’s, Cartwright’s, Longino’s and others’ works on related subjects, which this paper has not been properly informed by; and, at the time of writing, I am not nearly familiar enough with Quine’s work to properly make judgments regarding the interplay of his ontology and the idea of an onto-epistemic stance.
If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave comments below or email me.