5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on April 21, 2009
This book is on the semantics of factual (natural or social) science.
There are many books on the metaphysics/ontology and the epistemology of science, but why write a book on the semantics of science?
With a semantics of science we are able to answer questions such as: What are genuine referents of quantum mechanics or of the theory of evolution?
How should rival scientific theories be compared? Through spotty historical remarks (Kuhn, Feyerabend) or through a semantics of science using semantic notion of referentially commensurable?
The style of the book can be characterized as exact philosophy, in the sense of the application of rigorous methods and the aim of being compatible with the bulk of scientific knowledge. The style is not overly formal. The mathematical concepts that are used include set, function, lattice, Boolean algebra, ideal, filter, topological and metric space. Central philosophical concepts used include factual reference, factual sense, and factual truth.
The semantics of this book are in line with that of Tarski and Carnap, though it 1) refers to factual science instead of mathematics, 2) is realist rather than nominalist, empiricist, or Fregean, and 3) has a lower degree of formalization.
Interestingly, the author points out that Frege mapped predicates to truth values. Bunge instead maps arguments of the predicate into a statements. The author counts this as one miss of the great man Frege, among all his hits.
It is pleasant to follow the author slowly and in detail build up his system. The book is highly recommended to friends of science and philosophy.
Table of contents
Chapter 1, Designation
1. Symbol and Idea
3. Metaphysical Concomitants
Chapter 2, Reference
2. The Reference Relation
3. The Reference Functions
4. Factual Reference
Chapter 3, Representation
1. Conceptual Representation
2. The Representation Relation
4. Semantic Components of a Scientific Theory
Chapter 4, Intension
2. A Calculus of Intensions
3. Some Relatives - Kindred and in Law
4. Concluding Remarks
Chapter 5, Gist and Content
1. Closed Contexts
2. Sense as Purport and Logical Ancestry
3. Sense as Import or Logical Progeny
4. Full Sense
Chapter 6-10, see Treatise on Basic Philosophy, Volume 2, Semantics II: Interpretation and Truth
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 24, 2000
Mario Bunge gives us some creative solutions for the semantic problems in science. He shows that we cannot discuss scientific realism without a good theory of reference. If we believe that scientific theories talk about the world we live in, we should solve an enormous amount of semantic problems.Bunge has some interesting answers.