Scientific Rationality by Degrees

Conference paper
Part of the European Studies in Philosophy of Science book series (ESPS, volume 5)


In a recent paper, Okasha imports Arrow’s impossibility theorem into the context of theory choice. He shows that there is no function (satisfying certain desirable conditions) from profiles of preference rankings over competing theories, models or hypotheses provided by scientific virtues to a single all-things-considered ranking. This is a prima facie threat to the rationality of theory choice. In this paper we show this threat relies on an all-or-nothing understanding of scientific rationality and articulate instead a notion of rationality by degrees. The move from all-or-nothing rationality to rationality by degrees will allow us to argue that theory choice can be rational enough.


Theory Choice Kuhn Okasha Social Choice Theory Rationality 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GovernmentLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific MethodLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK
  3. 3.History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of Notre DameNotre DameUSA
  4. 4.Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social ScienceLondon School of Economics and Political ScienceLondonUK

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