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METAPHILOSOPHY

Vol. 6, No. 2. April 1975

PROBLEM CHANGES IN SCIENCE AND
PHILOSOPHY

I. BROWN
HAROLD

Intellectual progress is generally associated with the solution
of problems and it is not a t all unusual to have the history of
thought described as a continuing series of attempts to solve a
set of persistent problems. Since ancient Greece astronomers
have attempted to account for the various motions of celestial
bodies, physicists have sought the fundamental entities that
make up the material world and philosophers have tried to
answer such questions as the nature of knowledge or of obliga-
tion. But many of the so-called “perennial problems” are peren-
nial only because they have been formulated in ways which make
them intractable. In such cases intellectual progress requires a
reexamination of the problem and a new solution becomes pos-
sible only after the problem has been changed. Changing an
intractable problem into one which can be handled is not, how-
ever, the same thing as declaring the problem an unanswerable
pseudo-question in the manner of the logical positivists. Rather,
it is the creation of a new problem which is a recognizable
variation of the original. In order to clarify this thesis we must
examine the structure of problems.

1. The Structure of Problems
Problems arise only in the context of presuppositions; it is
because some phenomena or situations or concepts are viewed
in the context of a particular set of already accepted beliefs that
they become problematic, and the presuppositions which gener-
ate problems also provide criteria for the acceptability of pro-
posed solutions.’ Consider, for example, the Socratic quest for
the definition of such terms as ‘justice’, ‘piety’, or ‘beauty’, and
let us ask why the definition of these terms presented a problem
to Socrates but not to his contemporaries. The phenomenon
which posed the Socratic problem was clearly the wide variety
of situations in which each of these terms is used, and this varied
usage appeared problematic to Socrates because he was com-
*For an analysis of the logical and epistemic status of presuppositions see my
paper “Paradigmatic Propositions”, American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 12
(1975), pp. 85-90.
177

The Collected Dialogues of Pluto. W. 4Xbid. indeed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (Pantheon Books. Vbid. I wanted one virtue and I find that you have a whole swarm of virtues to ~ f f e r . while Socrates may not yet know the correct definition of ‘justice’. is clearly shown by the dialogues in which Socrates must first explain what the problem is. Why does my mother. “and a great many more kinds of virtue. little. The doctor. 1961). p. he does know that any acceptable answer must be completely general so that proposed answers may be examined by looking for a single counter-instance. Similarly. so that in most cases it had never even occurred to them that there might be something problematic in this varied usage. 355. ~ Meno under- stands this point. he does know that no proposed answer in terms of. Meno. about science. who knows no medicine. but rather its “essential n a t ~ r e ” Until . 72b. to take another example. C. trans.178 HAROLD I. . when Socrates asks what virtue is. can recognize a medical situation which has not been accounted for and which is thus problematic. While my doctor does not know why ulcers act up in the early spring and early fall... my doctor tells me that no one yet understands why ulcers tend to act up in the early spring and early fall but my mother finds no problem here at all when she tells me that it is because of the change of season. say. That this assumption was not shared by Socrates’ contemporaries. for example. Guthrie. “I seem to be in luck. ed. if anything. of the woman. 72a. ”and ~ then goes on to explain that he is seeking not a list of virtues. of the child. until he understands the presupposition which leads to Socrates’ question. so that no one need be at a loss to say what it is”. who views my pain from the point of view of contemporary medicine. under- stand what my doctor does not understand? It is exactly because my mother lacks information about medicine that she fails to find a problem here and is satisfied to accept a mere constant conjunction as self-explanatory. pre- suppositions also provide criteria for what kind of solution to a problem is acceptable. 71e. he finds Socrates’ problem to be quite unproblematic. the balance of the humors or the phases of the moon will be acceptable since cur- rent medical theory does not permit this sort of explanation. Meno’s first response is to list the virtue of the man. In the Meno.2 To this Socrates replies. K. BROWN mitted to the thesis that each of these terms must have a single meaning in all cases in which it is used. no physiology and. of the slave. And he knows more SPlato. Similarly. Besides generating problems in the sense just explained.

Thus the entire thrust of Socrates’ counter- argument is to show that on this definition too we will have to SPlato. it would be perfectly consistent of him if he were to insist that since the situation Socrates describes is covered by his defini- tion. “truth telling and paying back what one has re- ceived from a n ~ o n e ” . 581. the first definition offered by Cephalus in the Republic. As a result they will not only accept different specific answers. Paul Shorey. it does not provide a sufficient basis for evaluating any of the infinite number of general definitions which might be proposed. for the presuppositions which structure a problem do not dictate a specific answer. and it is because his definition has implications which are inconsistent with this pre- supposition that Cephalus is willing to abandon the proposed definition. 322a-b. 3 3 1 ~ trans. 58% elbid. for example.This ~ is offered as a completely general definition and Socrates goes on to criticize it by arguing that it would be unjust to return a weapon to a friend who is mad. The crucial pre? supposition at this stage of the argument in the Republic is that just acts promote the weil being of others. In general a question will be based on a number of presupposi- tions which combine to provide the criteria for evaluating pro- posed answers and these presuppositions will be ordered hier- archically with some being more fundamental than others. it is indeed a case of a just act. Polemarchus offers the second definition. Collected Dialogues. But why should Cephalus accept this as a counter-instance. p. that justice is doing good to our friends and evil to our enemies. for while the demand for complete generality provides a necessary condition which any proposed answer must meet. . Republic. Consider. . but rather the kinds of answers that are admissible. they will accept different kinds of proposed answers as being worthy of further consideration. The fact that Cephalus does accept Socrates’ example as a counter-instance shows that there is at least one assumption as to the nature of justice which Socrates and Cephalus both accept and which provides a criterion for evaluating proposed definitions. Because of this it is possible for two different people to be ask- ing the same question in that they accept the same deepseated presuppositions while they are also asking a different question in that they accept different lower level presuppositions. We can illustrate this point by returning to the opening discussion of the Republic. PROBLEM CHANGES IN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 179 than this..’ and this definition is offered within the same set of presuppositions a t was Cepha- lus’ definition. p.

or. A Freudian psychoanalyst. We can now make three general points about the relation between questions and their presuppositions. in the only im- portant sense of the word ‘evil’. and the just man will never do evil to anyone. rejects this presupposition when he proposes that justice is the advantage of the stronger so that the definitions that have been proposed so far are simply irrelevant to him and he must literally break into the argument. however.‘ It is because Polemarchus accepts the presupposition that just acts promote the well being of others that he is now willing to drop the proposed definition. who uttered the same words. asks me why I bought a car. .180 HAROLD I.. 322c-335e0 pp. we do not know what question is being asked nor what kinds of answers will be considered relevant unless we know the set of presuppositions from which the question is being asked. In comparison with those who have mastered arts such as medicine or cooking. 336b.e. Elbid. If an economist.. 581-585. 586. ‘Took a walk’. The first is that when we encounter a locution which has the grammatical form of a question. would be asking a quite different question than the economist and might not accept any answer as relevant until I got to my toilet training. the just man qua just is relatively powerless to help his friends.’ Thrasymachus is attempting to answer the Socratic question by presenting a single general definition of ‘justice’. try to make him a worse man. but he would be quite bewil- dered if I gave him a description of my early childhood and particularly of my toilet training. while at the same time he is rejecting Socrates’ full question in that he rejects the presupposi- tion that has controlled the argument thus far. ‘Why did you buy a car?’. ‘Took a walk‘. might be appropriate. ‘What did you do last night?’ I think it is clear that the answer. ‘Read a book’. consider the question.. ‘Breathed’. he may well accept answers in terms of my need for transporta- tion or my response to advertising. i. would be as inappropriate as. Similarly. would be true but irrelevant in almost any context while. p. BROWN accept as just acts which do not promote the well being of others.) Now suppose that I am partners with another Tibid. In this case the answer. ‘Breathed’. on the other hand. Thrasymachus. Socrates maintains. He accepts the presupposition that there is a single definition of universal terms (a presupposition which many philosophers reject). for example. even an enemy. (Suppose that the ques- tioner is a close friend who knows that I take a walk every evening and has no reason to believe that last night was different.

(We could. the question. an appropriate answer might be. and I will not ask someone this question unless I have good reasons for believing that the person I ask is using the same monetary system that I am. In many everyday situations it would seem that this sort of misunderstanding could not occur. not the result of the absence of presuppositions. produce a science fiction example in which. there is no way in which the question could be misconstrued as a result of his failing to recognize the presuppositions behind my question. if I ask a policeman how far it is to Creston and he replies. to this question because I assume that the questioner knows that I was breathing last night and that this is not what he was inquiring about. nor do we stop people in the street and ask for change for a dollar if we are in England or France. it does not show that the question is presuppositionless. The second point referred to above is that we can reject a question by rejecting its presupposition. PROBLEM CHANGES IN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 181 man in a retail business and that it was my turn to keep the business open late on Tuesday night. I ask some- one if he has change for a dollar. This case is similar to our earlier example. “What did you do last night?”. and if I deny this . he might or might not have given an appropri- ate response. The standard logic text examples of complex questions will serve to illustrate this point. for example. ‘What did you do last night?’ in one respect: I would not answer. depending on whether his guess as to the pre- supposition behind my question was correct. “Fifteen minutes”. We do not ask this ques- tion of small children (unless we are teasing them). But even if the example be granted. The question is one which could only be asked in the context of a conventionally accepted mone- tary system. it might be argued.) Thus the fact that in some cases it would not occur to me to give a particular answer and in other cases I can imagine only one appropriate answer is the result of shared presuppositions. ‘Breathed’. would be an appropriate answer. When I meet my partner on Wednesday morning and he asks. If. ‘Breathed’. “Five hundred dollars”. The third party’s bewilderment in this case is the result of his not having understood the question in spite of the fact that he has no difficulty at all with the English language. In the same way. of course. an answer which would be utterly unintelligible to someone who was not familiar with the information my partner and I share that was presupposed in his asking and my answering the ques- tion. If someone asks me when I stopped beating my wife. he pre- supposes that I have been beating my wife.

the presuppositions of a question do not dictate a single answer and no matter how complete and explicit the presuppositions. ‘Why is there anything rather than nothing?’ or. they move for a while in what appears to be an arc of a circle around the earth. this time one from the history of science. in most cases. pseudo-questions since those who utter them have no idea at all as to what might count as an acceptable answer so that all proposed answers are equally satis- factory and equally unsatisfactory. Similarly.182 HAROLD I. the observed motions of the planets are only apparent motions and theoretical astronomy was born and had its first . And. to take a new example. The looped path which results had been observed for centuries but it did not become a problem until Plato proposed the principle that all motions of celestial bodies are circular. it may still be extremely difficult to determine which proposed answers to accept. will help to clarify our analysis as well as to develop it somewhat further. Viewed in terms of this principle.. Thirdly.e. the question loses its point. Another example. those con- temporary philosophers who reject the Socratic thesis that there is a single meaning for every universal term also reject the Socratic problem of finding such definitions. Thus locutions such as. Note again. ’What is the meaning of life?’ are. but the presuppositions of a genuine question will provide sufficient criteria to delimit the class of potentially acceptable answers. BROWN presupposition. Throughout most of its history the central problem of astron- omy was the problem of the planets. the Aristotelian problem of finding the force which keeps a projectile moving when it is no longer in contact with the original mover loses its point once we have abandoned the assumption that every form of motion requires the continual action of a force. but then they stop and reverse direction and then stop again and proceed in their original direction. i. the recognition of the role that presuppositions play in both generating questions and providing criteria which allow us to recognize possibly acceptable answers provides us with a new basis for distinguishing between genuine questions and pseudoquestions : a locution which has the grammatical form of a question is a pseudo-question when it does not have a suffi- ciently well-elaborated body of presuppositions to allow us to recognize what kind of statement could count as an answer. If the planets are observed throughout the course of a year it is found that they have an annual motion which consists of a kind of looped path.

There are. and that the earth is the center of all of the celestial motions-and it is once again clear that the same set of presuppositions that turns the observed motions of the planets into “apparent motions” and thus generates the problem of the planets also provides a set of criteria for determining what kinds of attempts to save the phenomena are permissible. Ptolemy did not provide an adequate solution to the problem of the . four distinct presuppositions at this point-that the celestial motions are circular. These attempts had only limited success so that. that the earth is stationary. in fact. eccentrics and equants were to be permitted at all as means of accounting for the motions of the planets. epicycles and eccentrics. In maintaining that this new approach had the effect of creating a new problem. It should also be emphasized that the upshot of Ptolemy’s proposal was the formu- lation of a new problem not the solution of a problem. were introduced which involved circular motions around points other than the center of the earth. and those who disagreed on whether epicycles.D. for only if a proposal meets these criteria would the question of how well it saved the phenomena be raised. Astronomers first attempted to solve this problem by constructing sets of homo- centric spheres which carried the planets and moved in various directions so that their combined motions would yield the observed planetary motions. PROBLEM CHANGES IN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 183 research problem-to find a system of circular motions centered on the stationary earth which would save the appearances. and the equant point was also introduced which allowed circular motions to be uniform about points other than the center of the circle. in the latter case we have researchers who are working on different problems while in a deeper respect all of these astronomers were working on the same problem since they all accepted the key presuppositions that the earth is stationary and that all celestial movements are circular. The former disagreement is a case of researchers who offer different solutions to the same problem. the point to be emphasized is the difference between those who disagreed on the sizes of the epicycles and on where the eccentric or the equant should be placed. by the time of Ptolemy in the second century A. a new approach was developed by dropping the original presupposition that all celestial motions are centred on the earth. Two devices.. that their velocity is uniform. This entailed a small but genuine re- formulation of the problem which permitted an entirely new kind of solution to be proposed and created an approach in terms of which astronomers worked for some fifteen hundred years.

P u t t e m of Discovery (Cambridge University Press. Perception and Discooery (Freeman. is also rejected and the problem of the planets is changed once again. but there are clear respects in which Copernicus is still trying to solve the same problem as was Ptolemy. and also cases in which two different observers with different sets of theoretical commitments are seeing differ- ent things while being able to recognize that they are both Iook- ing at a single object. I will try to show in the final section of this paper. Copernicus’ change in the Ptole- maic problem is a much more radical problem change than Ptolemy’s change in the Platonic problem. indeed. Cooper & Company. Copernicus is attempting to account for the looped motions of the planets by constructing systems of circular motions with the sun stationary and using epicycles and eccentrics (Copernicus rejected the use of the equant and re- affirmed the principle of circular motion which is uniform with respect to the center of the circle). With Copernicus another of the Platonic presuppositions. 1969). When we compare the Ptolemaic and Copernican versions of the problem of the planets we have an example of what I will refer to as a “samenessldifference situation”. and by putting the earth in motion he undermined the accepted physics so that Copernicans found themselves with the task of creating a new physics. Chapter 1. Rather. can also be fruitful in handling intractable philosophical prob- lems. BROWN planets and those astronomers who accepted the Ptolemaic approach worked at attempting to improve the fit between theory and observation. Chapters 4-11. A paradigm of sameness /difference situations is provided by cases of theory- laden perception such as have been analyzed particularly by Hanson? Here we find instances such as the Gestalt shift in which an individual recognizes that he is perceiving two different objects while also being aware that he is seeing a single object throughout. Problem changes of this kind have often been fruitful in handling previously intractable scientific problems and. he developed a new approach to the problem of the planets and thus opened up the possibility of a new line of research. . Again it must be emphasized that Copernicus did not just offer a new solution to an old problem. 1958).184 HAROLD I. his quantitative results were no more accurate than those of the astronomers whose approach he rejected. that the earth is stationary. And there is a deeper tie between the theory-ladenness of observations and what we might call the @NorwoodRussell Hanson.

I have subsumed it under a concept. 2. to consider theory-laden observa- tions and the relation between observations and problems some- what more closely. then. the objects in question are being observed in terms of some set of presuppositions which structures both the observation and the problem. Suppose.. I cannot ask any meaningful questions about it. the observation is theory-laden. Each of these 1ONote that in some cases the attempt to answer a question about an object will be equivalent to the attempt to find an appropriate identification. and I also know that no appeal to a flight of birds or the growth of the population of India will be relevant..e. to attempt to do so would be to pursue a pseudo-question. To observe that there is a hole in front of me is already a case of theory-laden observation since I have identified the object in question. but this does not affect the main point that no genuine questions can be asked unless some preliminary identification has been made. until I know something about the object. for in any case in which an observed phenomenon such as the annual motion of the planets is recognized as problematic. . I can now ask for an explanation of why there is a hole at this particular place. PROBLEM CHANGES IN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 185 “theory-ladenness of problems”. It will be useful. In this case I cannot begin to seek an explanation of the presence of this object. an object for which I have no concept. By contrast. As a result of having identified this object it is now possible for me to ask questions about it. that after further examination one observer identifies the hole as a crater and another identifies it as a mine shaft. indeed. I have not located it with respect to any information that I have available SO that I have no basis for accepting or rejecting any proposed answer to any question that I might frame.e. i. Thus I know that it is possible that the hole was caused by men digging or by an earthquake or a volcano or perhaps by a meteorite. consider a case in which I observe an object which I cannot identify. for example. Not having identified the object. for example. Observations and Problems Consider a case in which I discover a large hole in the ground. and in so doing I have located it in relation to other concepts and in relation to the total body of information that I have available. i. Put somewhat differ- ently. and my identifica- tion of it as a hole is already sufficient to select out some of the kinds of occurrences that I am familiar with as possible explana- tions.“ Now consider a case in which two different people examine the same object but identify it differently.

1972. Le.ll In these terms. but it is only the description or identifi- cation that plays a role in our discourse about the object and in any knowledge we might acquire about it. 6 . As a result of this observational sameness I difference situation. Both of our researchers are attempting to solve the same problem in that they are both seeking an explanation for the existence of the hole. just as in the case of sameness/ difference situations that arise with respect to problem changes. but they are pursuing different problems in that one of them is attempting to account for the existence of a crater and the other is attempting to account for the existence oi a mine shaft. it follows that observation itself plays no role in our knowledge.. and so forth. But it is logically impossible to account for the existence of a crater by appeal to evidence for the presence of gold under the surface since the entire system of concepts involved in identifying the hole as a crater is in- consistent with this explanation. so that if we insist on drawing a sharp distinction between what we observe and our identification of it. BROWN observers has now further located the hole in terms of his avail- able concepts and knowledge and this further identification has a number of consequences. our first investigator presupposes that the object in question is a crater while the second presupposes that it is a mine shaft. and the same point holds even 11For a detailed argument for this position see my paper "Perception and Mean- ing". It might be responded here that they are seeing the same thing and describing it differently. then. . a problem sameness I difference situation arises as well. for example. To begin with we can note that each of these observers is now. American Philosophical Quarterly Monograph. on its size and depth. by the impact of a meteorite or by volcanic action and the presence of a mine shaft can be explained by pointing out that there is reason to believe that there is gold under the surface. seeing something different: one is seeing a crater. one of our observers sees a crater and the other sees a mine shaft so that they are seeing different things while they can also recognize that they are seeing the same thing and we have a sameness1 difference situation. The presence of a crater can be explained. And. pp. No. in a crucial sense. the other a mine shaft. That these are differentproblems can again be shown by noting that the presuppositions of the respective problems permit different kinds of answers in the two cases. 1-9. we can identify the respects in which the two observers see the same thing as well as the respects in which what they see differs : they can agree on the spatial location of the object in question.186 HAROLD I. that it is a hole.

. 59 ff. There is a funda- mental difference between the kind of debate that would take place between those who agree that the hole is a crater but dis- agree on whether i t is the result of a meteorite or of volcanic action. Hume and Hanson on the Problem of Causality (a) Hume’s Version of the Problem of Causality For Hume the problem of causality is first and foremost a problem of meaning. and the kind of debate that would take place between those who disagree on whether the hole is a crater or a mine shaft. “Why is there a hole here?” and also an answer to the question. after much research. a problem of determining what we mean by the term ‘causal connection’ or ‘necessary connection’. Some of the investi- gators may eventually begin to question whether they are indeed dealing with a crater and someone may even suggest that the hole is not a crater but a mine shaft. If this were to occur we would have an answer to the question. We are now ready to apply our notion of problem changes to a philosophical problem. no progress has been made toward finding an acceptable efficient cause. Patterns of Discovery. pp. a term has meaning only if there is an idea associated with it and all of our ideas are copies of impressions W f . after further digging and perhaps some reanalysis of objects already removed. it will allow new questions to be asked and new possi- bilities to be explored and. 3. Hanson’s discussion of “theory-laden” words. the difference is not just one of deciding which of two explanations is to be explored.I2 Suppose now that the hole in question has been identified as a crater but. but rather involves logically different kinds of explanations. this last question has now been rejected and it is by rejecting it and changing both the question and the way in which the hole is seen that the problem of the presence of the hole is finally solved. According to Hume. PROBLEM CHANGES IN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 187 more obviously for any attempt to explain the presence of a mine shaft by appeal to the impact of a meteorite. Indeed. “Why is there a mine shaft here?” but no answer a t all to the question. Those who agree that the hole is a crater are committed to looking for an efficient cause of the hole. “Why is there a crater here?” Rather. so that they are looking for something quite different when they ask why the hole is there. those who agree that the hole is a mine shaft have already identified the efficient cause since all mine shafts are man made. traces of gold and pieces of tools may be identified. If this proposal is taken seriously.

But Hume has formulated only a part of his problem. p. Selby-Bigge (Oxford Univer- sity Press. . in the context of Hume’s own discussion. that gives rise to this idea of necessity. 1888). that as we have no idea.13 Restricting our discussion to causal connections between events which we experience by means of our outer senses.e. L. A. Thus I have both given a meaning to the term ‘necessary laDavid Hume. there is no reason why we should look for an impression of a necessary con- nection. we must seek some third impression besides the impression of the cause and the impression of the effect which connects these two im- pressions and it should be noted that if we could find the required impression. i. we must find some impression. e d . BROWN so that if we are to understand what is meant by the claim that there is a necessary connection between events referred to as “cause” and as “effect” we must find the impression which is the source of this idea of a necessary connection: Upon this head I repeat what I have often had occasion to observe. that is not deriv’d from an impression. Now although Hume presents his problem as one of finding an impression. consider the following possibility: Whenever I observe a moving billiard ball strike a stationary billiard ball I hear a sharp click and the stationary ball begins to move. at the claim that the term ‘necessary connection’ can have no meaning until we have associ- ated it with an impression.. In terms of our analysis of the structure of problems it is clear that Hume has posed a genuine problem: he is asking for the meaning of a term. if we assert we really have such an idea. I now assert that the collision with the moving ball caused the stationary ball to move. and he pro- vides us with a theory of meaning which both generates the problem and gives us criteria for evaluating proposed solutions. 155. and once we have presupposed this theory we know that the problem of the meaning of ‘causal connection’ can only be answered by finding this impression. that there is a necessary connection between these two events. we would simultaneously give the term ‘causal Connection’ a meaning and also verify that there is a causal connection in this particular case.188 HAROLD I. To see this. and I also assert that the impression of a necessary connection is the sharp click. we must look somewhat more carefully. if we do not presuppose Hume’s theory of meaning. A Treatise of Human Nature.

The argument which follows in which Hume turns from impressions of sense to impressions of reflection in his search for the meaning of the term ‘causal connection’ and which eventually leads him to con- clude that. It is in terms of these presupposi- tions that Hume applies “the experimental Method of Reason- ing”’“ to the search for the causal connector and.. can only occur between two other distinct entities. IsTreafise. Finally. that exists in the mind. for the structure of Hume’s problem makes it in prin- ciple impossible to find such a connector. as is well known. What does concern us is that there is a much stronger reason for abandoning the search for a connector of percepts than the empirical one that no impression of this connector has been dis- covered.15 is beyond the scope of our concern here. percepts are impressions. fails to find the connector in question. not in objects. p. If a new attempt to solve the problem is to have any hope of success. There are two characteristics of impressions which concern us here : Impressions are the objects of all sensory experience so that the perceived world is made up completely of impressions. Secondly. The connector must be an impression but every impression is a distinct entity. Thus the term ‘causal connec- tion’ is not a wholly undefined term before we find an impression and there must be some additional presuppositions operating in the discussion. ”. One of these additional presuppositions has been before our eyes throughout : we are looking for the impres- sion of a connector. “necessity is something. To begin with. and every impression is ontologically distinct from every other impression.e. it cannot also connect them. We can now give a more complete formulation of Hume’s version of the problem of causality. . %ee the subtitle of the Treatise. A distinct entity. . the problem is one of finding what connects our percepts. In order to discover what kind of impression could possibly fill this role we must recall what Hume tells us about impressions. 165. so that it is logically im- possible to solve the problem that Rume has formulated. PROBLEM CHANGES IN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 189 connection’ and also verified the existence of a necessary con- nection in this case. however. for an impression which can connect two other impressions. . i. Clearly Hume would not accept this solution to his problem but in order to reject it he must have some criteria for deciding what kinds of impressions are admissible candidates for the impression of a causal connection. any candidate for the role of a connector of impressions must itself be an impression.

Considering the case in which the temperature of a confined gas is raised and an increased pressure observed (at constant volume). Cf. which provide causal connections : “Causes certainly are connected with effects. on this approach. but this is because our theories connect them. this would only establish a further constant conjunction. whether by reference to the physical sensations of pressure and of warmth or by reference to pointer readings.e. and even if a third impres- sion were found occurring between the impressions of tempera- ture and pressure. BROWN it must begin by changing the problem.e. also “Causal Chains”.. is what Hanson attempts to do. From Hanson’s point of view we must look for a theory if we are going to establish a causal connection between changes of temperature and changes of pressure. 1955). i. It is not completely clear how. (b) Hanson’s Version of the Problem of Causality For Hanson all percepts which become a part of our know- ledge are theory-laden so that we do not seek causal connections between bare impressions..190 HAROLD I. i. This. and no theory can establish this connection as long as temperature and pressure are defined solely in terms of physical sensations or in terms of pointer readings. 64. a Humean must hold that there is merely a constant conjunction between increased temperature and increased pressure. it laHanson. 304. not other percepts. not because the world is held to- gether by cosmic glue”. we must redefine them in the terms of the theory. Patterns of Discovery. p. Now this is exactly what is done in applying the kinetic theory. not a necessary connection. p.“ Again the point can best be made in terms of an example: I will take the kinetic theory of gases and the explanation it provides of the relation between pressure and temperature. He takes up Hume’s problem of trying to find what connects our percepts in a causal relation but he does so in the context of a different epistemology which does not require that he identify either percepts or connectors with Humean impressions. The theory analyzes a gas as a collection of rapidly moving particles. Mind. and it is these theories them- selves. I shall now argue. we must first integrate these concepts into the theory. but only between percepts which are “seen” in terms of our theories. . In Humean terms Boyle’s law states a relation between species of impressions. we should define the terms ‘pressure’ and ‘temperature’. but either defini- tion will suffice for our purposes. 64 (July.

what the theory tells us is that since both the temperature and pressure of a gas are functions of the velocity of the gas particles. whether a perceived entity or a supersensible nexus. but it is beyond the scope of this paper to consider these problems or to attempt an evaluation of Han- son’s analysis of the problem of causality. not an entity. and this is. and to attempt to find an entity which connects cause and effect. since all research is based on some set of presupposi- tions and thus theory-laden. but an increase in the average velocity of the particles entails an increase in the number of impacts on the walls of the con- tainer per unit of time and an increase in the energy of each impact and since such an increase is an increase in pressure. Causal explanations are possible because we have theories in terms of which we attempt to understand the world around us and because in so doing we see the world in terms of these theories. Our only concern here has been to exhibit a case in which a philosopher attempts to solve a problem by changing it in a manner analogous to the way in which problem changes occur in science. again a function of the average velocity. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. a function of the average velocity of the particles. An increase in the temperature of the gas is equivalent to an increase in the average velocity of its particles. the theory establishes a necessary connection between the increase in temperature and the increase in pressure-the theory provides a causal explanation of Boyle’s law. Undoubtedly Hanson’s approach to the problem of causality raises many problems. is to commit a category mistake. PROBLEM CHANGES IN SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY 191 analyzes pressure in terms of the average number of collisions per unit time between the gas particles and walls of the con- tainer. this requirement imposes no limitation on the range of causal explanation. Thus causality is a kind of explanation. clearly there must be a real connec- tion between them. We can provide causal explanations only of theory-laden per- cepts. MPH E . Scientific re- search which takes place within the context of an accepted set of presuppositions has been called “normal science” by Thomas Kuhn. The large number of philosophers who have accepted the Humean framework and devoted their efforts to attempting to solve the problems which the presuppositions of this framework generate. 1970).“ it would seem that there is a parallel sense in which we can talk about “normal philosophy”. in turn. In sum. Kuhn. problems such ‘Thomas S. and it analyzes temperature in terms of the mean kinetic energy of the gas molecules. second edition (Uni- versity of Chicago Press. but.

NORTHERN ILLINOIS UNIVERSITY UFor a detailed analysis of logical empiricist philosophy of science as a normal research tradition see Part I of m y book. Inc. philoso- phers who attempt to change our presuppositions and thereby change our problems are proposing philosophic revolutions in a sense which is also parallel to Kuhn's notion of a scientific revolution. . an attempt to change a recalcitrant problem in order to offer a new solution to it. BROWN as induction and the analysis of theoretical terms. are engaged in normal philosophic research in this sense." Similarly.192 HAROLD I. to take obvious examples. Some intellectual revolutions are of considerably wider scope than others. But it is still a genuine attempt at philosophically revolutionary thought. and it serves to illustrate a point at which the nature of scientific research and philosophic research converge. and Hanson's pro- posed revolution in our thought about causality is an example of an attempt to bring about a relatively small revolution in comparison with. Perception. Theory and Commitment forth- coming from Precedent Publishing. the revolutions initiated by Descartes or Kant. although the notion of a problem change developed here suggests that there is more continuity across a revolution than Kuhn would seem to allow.