By Franklin C. West
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Extra info for A Crisis of the Weimar Republic: A Study of the German Referendum of 20 June 1926 (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society)
36 2 Meta-philosophical Preliminaries from the descriptive. But then they cannot claim anymore that the descriptive part “informs” the normative one and it is left completely unclear on which independent grounds certain epistemic norms are justified. The first horn of the dilemma is a special version of a well-known objection, which is primarily raised against naturalistic accounts in moral philosophy. Proponents of a descriptive-normative project could assert that there exists a very close connection between, on the one hand, the critical description of those epistemic norms that are in fact accepted in scientific practice and, on the other hand, the normative task of identifying those epistemic norms that should apply to science.
Reconstructing instances of, for example, successful or failed reductive explanations are of particular importance for building an account of reductive explanation since philosophers not only want to understand “how science is done” but also “why it is as successful as it is” (Giere 1999, 53). In this sense the criterion of adequacy that John Norton identifies, namely “successful functioning” (2003, 648), can be characterized as a subtype of the criterion of descriptive adequacy. Other reasons why particular cases are important to a field are that they contribute to achieve a certain aim of the field (for example, some explanations in neuroscience promote the manipulation of the brain; Craver 2007a, ix) or that they are subject to intensive debate in the field.
Note that this third dimension of normativity is not completely distinct from the second dimension. Philosophical accounts that satisfy (3b) also satisfy (2). And factual claims about accepted norms in science (3a) also invoke methodological normativity, that is, they rely on normative claims about how to select relevant empirical information about norms in science. But still I think the third dimension of normativity is not dispensable as it highlights the importance of social and epistemic norms for normativity and promotes conceptual clarity.
A Crisis of the Weimar Republic: A Study of the German Referendum of 20 June 1926 (Memoirs of the American Philosophical Society) by Franklin C. West