Philosophy Seminar Series: 8 Sept 2011, 2-4pm, Philosophy Resource Room; Speaker: Teru Miyake, Assistant Professor, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, NTU; Moderator: Dr. Ben Blumson
We have been astonishingly successful in gathering knowledge about certain objects or systems to which we seemingly have extremely limited access. In light of this success, what are the methods through which we have come to have this knowledge, and what are the limits of what we can know using these methods? Traditionally, philosophers have viewed the methods that scientists use in the investigation of limited-access systems as being hypothetico-deductive. I argue that these methods are better understood by thinking of what scientists are doing as gaining access to the previously inaccessible parts of these systems through a series of indirect measurements. We obtain a clearer picture both of what we can know with confidence about limited-access systems, and the limits of this knowledge. I illustrate this way of thinking about the epistemology of limited-access systems through an examination of planetary astronomy and geophysics.