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Isaiah Berlin Lecture HT12
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Isaiah Berlin Lectures

Isaiah Berlin Visiting Professorship in the History of Ideas, 2015/16

'The Idea of a Scientific Philosophy from Kant to Kuhn and Beyond'

Professor Michael Friedman (Frederick P. Rehmus Family Professor of Humanities, Stanford University) will deliver the Isaiah Berlin Lectures on Wednesdays of weeks 4-8 of Michaelmas Term at 5 pm, in the T S Eliot Lecture Theatre, Merton College, Oxford OX1 4JD.

Michael Friedman

These five lectures trace out a path through philosophical attempts to appropriate developments in contemporaneous science on behalf of an evolving conception of “scientific” philosophy from Kant, through the revision of Kant in the Naturphilosophie of Schelling and Hegel, to the neo-Kantian reaction to Naturphilosophie initiated by Hermann von Helmholtz, through the evolution of what came to be called history and philosophy of science as developed in the neo-Kantianism of Ernst Cassirer and (yes) Thomas Kuhn, and, finally, to my own attempt to develop a post-Kuhnian approach to the history and philosophy of science in light of these developments.  The hope is to end up with a generalized and historicized version of the original Kantian conception of the relationship between science and philosophy that does full justice to the intervening radical changes having taken place in both, while still preserving a conception of trans-historical (but not ahistorical) scientific rationality in the Kantian tradition.


Lecture 1 - 'Kant’s System of Nature and Freedom: Theoretical Science and the Demands of Morality' [Slides] [Lecture
Reading: Kant's Construction of Nature [PDF]

Lecture 2 - 'The Challenge of Naturphilosophie: Kant, Schelling, and Hegel’ [Slides] [Lecture] [Quotes]
Reading: Space and Geometry in the B Deduction [PDF

Lecture 3 - 'Nineteenth Century Scientific Philosophy from Helmholtz to Einstein' [Slides] [Lecture] [Quotes]
Reading: Helmholtz's Zeichentheorie and Schlick's Allgemeine Erkenntnislehre [PDFGeometry, Construction, and Intuition in Kant and His Successors [PDF

Lecture 4 - 'Ernst Cassirer and Thomas Kuhn: The Neo-Kantian Tradition in History and Philosophy of Science' [Slides] [Lecture] [Quotes]
Reading: Kuhn, 1990 PSA Presidential Address [PDF] Friedman, Kuhn and Philosophy (2012) [PDFExtending the Dynamics of Reason (2011) [PDF

Lecture 5 - 'A Legacy of Kant in History and Philosophy of Science' [Slides] [Lecture] [Quotes]

Reading: Stein, On the Notion of Field in Newton, Maxwell, and Beyond (1970) [PDF] , Yes, but . . .: Some Skeptical Reflections on Realism and Anti-realism (1989) [PDF]; Smith, The Methodology of the Principia (2002) [PDF], How Newton's Principia Changed Physics (2012) [PDF], Friedman, The Prolegomena and Natural Science (2012) [PDF]; Kennefick, Testing Relativity from the 1919 Eclipse (2009) [PDF

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