Reason, Regulation, and Realism

Towards a Regulatory Systems Theory of Reason and Evolutionary Epistemology

By C. A. Hooker

Subjects: Epistemology
Series: SUNY series in Philosophy and Biology
Paperback : 9780791422625, 432 pages, March 1995
Hardcover : 9780791422618, 432 pages, March 1995

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Table of contents


1 Setting the Scene: Naturalism and the Prospects for Evolutionary Epistemology and Reason


1.I. Evolutionary Naturalist Realism: A Philosophical Outline

1.II. Evolutionary Epistemology in a Naturalist Setting

2 Towards a Regulatory Systems Conception of Science

Introduction: Five Regulatory Systems Ideas and Their Use

2.I. A Framework for Theorizing Complex Regulatory Systems

2.I.1. The Distinction between Functional(\Informational) and Causal Systems Descriptions (Idea 1)

2.I.2. The Distinction between Populations and Individuals: Not Collections to Members but Regulatory Systems to Subsystems (Idea 2)

2.I.3. A Framework of Two Dichotomies

2.II. Cognitive Systems Dynamics for Science

2.II.1. Regulation, Invariance, and Objectivity(Idea 3)

2.II.2. Adaptation/Adaptability, Refinement/Ascent and Progress (Idea 4)

2.III. Science as an Intrinsically Social Regulatory System (Idea 5)

2.III.1. Regulation, Information, and Institutional Design

3 Reason and the Regulation of Decisions: Popper's Evolutionary Epistemology (with Bary Hodges)

Introduction and Overview

3.I. Logical Empiricism and Popperian Method: Formalism and the Control of Decisions

3.I.1. Logical Empiricism

3.I.2. Popperian Method and Logical Empiricism

3.I.3. Critique of Popperian Method

3.I.4. Control of Decisions: The Popperian Methodological Dilemma

3.II. Popper's Evolutionary Epistemology: Analysis and Critique

3.II.1. The Natural Selection of Theories

3.II.1.1. Evolutionary Continuity

3.II.1.2. Differences in Error Elimination

3.II.1.3. Error Elimination in World 3 and Plastic Controls

3.II.1.4. Unity or Schizophrenia? Popper's Problem of Evolutionary Method

3.II.2. Selection of Theories in a Symbolic Environment

3.II.2.1. Analogies, Disanalogies, and Popper's Problem

3.II.2.2. Ackermann on Selection in World 3

3.II.2.3. The Contents of World 3

3.II.2.4. Selecting Theories: the Design of Method

3.II.2.5. Conclusion

3.III. Toward a Regulatory Systems-Based Reassessment of the Significance of Popper's Philosophy

3.III.1. Problems and Lessons from PEE

3.III.2. The Control of Decisions

3.III.3. Plastic Controls and Social Rationality

3.III.4. Conclusion

4 Regulatory Systems and Pragmatism: A Critical Study of Rescher's Evolutionary Epistemology

Introduction and Summary

4.I. Thesis Pragmatism and Its Critique

4.II. Methodological Pragmatism

4.III. Presumptions, Regulative Principles, Constitutive Theses, and Justification

4.IV. Reprise and Prospect

4.V. Methodological Dynamics

4.VI. Rationality

4.VII. Regulation

4.VIII. Rescher on Evolutionary Epistemology and Method Darwinism

4.IX. Scientific Progress

4.X. Conclusion

5 Regulatory Constructivism: Jean Piaget


5.I. Piaget's Regulatory Systems Framework

5.I.1. Piaget's Developmental Psychology and Biology

5.I.2. The Structure and Scope of Genetic Epistemology

5.I.2.1. Genetic Epistemology as Process

5.I.2.2. Piaget and Products of Processes

5.I.2.3. Processes and Universal Form

5.I.2.4. Non-naturalist Interpretations of Piaget

5.I.3. Genetic Epistemology and Evolutionary Epistemology

5.II. Piaget's Normative Epistemology

5.II.1. Introduction

5.II.2. The Status of Philosophical Construction

5.II.3. Piaget's Conception of Reason

5.II.4. The Normative Nature of Genetic Epistemology

5.II.5. Piaget: Rationalist or Naturalist?

5.II.6. Conclusion

6 Naturalized Reason


6.I. Naturalizing Reason

6.I.1. How Not to Naturalize

6.I.2. A Perspective on Reason

6.I.2.1 The Western Rational Project

6.I.2.2 Beyond Formal Reason

6.I.3. Naturalization

6.I.3.1 Theorizing truth

6.I.3.2 Theorizing Epistemology Naturalistically

6.I.4. Putnam against Naturalized Reason

6.I.5. What Is It to Naturalize Reason?

6.II. The Nature of Reason

6.II.1. Reason, the Regulation of Judgment

6.II.2. Reason and Regulatory Ideals

6.II.3. Contexts of Rational Action

6.II.4. Reason and Efficiency

6.II.5. Naturalist Reason and Creativity

6.I1.6. Biology and Reason

6.II.7. The Historical Manifestation of Reason

6.II.8. Conclusion



Name Index

Subject Index


This book develops a new naturalist theory of reason and scientific knowledge from a synthesis of philosophy and the new sciences of complex adaptive systems. In particular, the theory of partially self-organizing regulatory systems is now emerging as central to all the life and social sciences, and this book shows how these ideas can be used to illuminate and satisfyingly reconstruct our basic philosophical concepts and principles.

Evolutionary epistemology provides a unifying subject for the book. It is taken as proposing some important commonality between cognitive biological and cognitive epistemic processes. Here, that commonality is found by embedding both in a common model of complex adaptive system dynamics.

New reconstructions are offered on the theories of Jean Piaget, Karl Popper, and Nicholas Rescher which show how their ideas are more deeply illuminated from this perspective in contrast to the formal rationalist interpretations standard among philosophers and scientists.

C. A. Hooker is Professor of Philosophy at The University of Newcastle, Australia. He is the author of A Realistic Theory of Science and, with Kai Halweg, Issues in Evolutionary Epistemology, also published by SUNY Press.


"The strongest point of this book is that it ties together a number of trends in modern science under the perspective of naturalistic systems, seeing human reason as a part of the system of nature itself. The approach is consistently rigorous, making it difficult to dismiss. " — John Collier