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PHL550 - Second Essay

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PHL 550
David Checkland

In looking at the dialogue in Norman Melcherts Whos to Say I will examine the statement made by Peter that Every language divides up the world in a certain wayand not all alike either The concepts expressible in one language may not match up at all neatly with those in anotherSo there are no neutral observations even the most basic observations are contaminated p 40 The point that Peter is making is that our subjective interpretations of the world and our experience always get in the way or contaminate our observations in all aspects of our lives In making this claim Peter is holding that there are no unbiased or neutral observations and therefore no reason to believe or claim one view observation or theory is better than another no neutral standard to appeal to 41 As he explains in regard to scientific claims there are always alternative accounts of our experiences because uninterpreted experience says nothing therefore even our reports of observations are permeated with interpretations 40So this lack of neutral tests is seen in the contaminated language these claims are framed in as to claim that one theory can be more reasonable than another because it is supported by experience is to suppose that experience can be talked about in a kind of theoryneutral language And there isnt any such language 40 This explanation he provides goes on to further his point to the what I think is pivotal as he claims that there isnt any bedrock for knowledge no neutral ground on which we can build our foundations 41 Peter goes on to use his ship analogy that it represents the system of our beliefs made up of our firm convictions our theories our guesses our hunches and that we are stuck on our ship among many 40 And although we can choose to jump to another ship or agree to see things the way they do theres nothing rational about the switch itself 4041 These initial points made by Peter are countered from one angle by Elizabeth who
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