Guilty Statements

Hilary Putnam

  • Representing and Intervening: Introductory Topics in the Philosophy of Natural Science by Ian Hacking
    Cambridge, 287 pp, £20.00, October 1983, ISBN 0 521 23829 3

Ian Hacking has written an interesting, confusing, fast-reading, slow-digesting, exasperating, idiosyncratic book which is must reading for anyone interested in the philosophy of science. The introduction is alarming indeed. After describing Feyerabend’s position (‘There are many rationalities, many styles of reason, and also many good modes of life where nothing worth calling reason matters very much’), Hacking adds: ‘My own attitude to rationality is too much like that of Feyerabend to discuss it further.’ Fortunately, this professed deconstructionism turns out to be so much hype: Hacking thinks well of both Feyeraband and Austin, but it’s on Austin’s side that he finds himself when the chips are down. In any case, as he himself tells us, ‘what follows is about scientific realism, not rationality.’

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