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Tuesday, February 23, 2016

We All Love Lists, Right...


Not much math here, but I'm intrigued a bit by philosophy of science (as an outside observer), so perhaps some of you are as well. A h/t to physicist Sean Carroll for recently pointing out this compiled list of "best Anglophone philosophers of science since 1945":

http://civs.cs.cornell.edu/cgi-bin/results.pl?id=E_81c68ea1c38fe926

Admittedly, I'm not even familiar with 2/3 of the 100+ names on this list (including "Bas van Fraassen," #5 in the rankings), but was still surprised by a few things about it:

1)  I enjoy reading Deborah Mayo's "Error Statistics Philosophy" blog, and so was unexpectedly pleased to find her ranked 59th out of 104 on the list.

2)  Despite the "popular" appeal of Thomas Kuhn's writings, surprised to see him at #2 in this list (thought his aura had faded somewhat, but apparently not).

3)  Also, didn't realize that Carl Hempel was viewed this highly -- could have anticipated a top 10 showing, but #3! and a notch ahead of Karl Popper at #4 would not have guessed. Feyerabend also higher than I would've expected (at #9).

4)  Surprised too that David Bohm even appears on this list (at #53), and the ubiquitous Wittgenstein does not appear at all (I assume his death in 1951 precluded inclusion here?).
But biggest surprise of all was Rudolf Carnap winning the poll fairly handily. He too (and "logical positivism," more generally) I thought had well-declined.  Apparently Martin Gardner was correct in predicting, years ago, a resurgence for Carnap (one of his professors), given some time! (a short piece by Gardner on Carnap is Chapter 3 in his great volume, "Are Universes Thicker Than Blackberries" HERE.)

Anyway, interesting compendium... any surprises for other readers?

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