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CONVENTIONALISM is the philosophical attitude that fundamental principles of a certain kind are grounded on (explicit or implicit) agreements in society, rather than on external reality. Although this attitude is commonly held with respect to the rules of grammar , its application to the propositions of ethics , law, science , mathematics, and logic is more controversial.

CONTENTS

* 1 Linguistics
Linguistics
* 2 Geometry * 3 Epistemology
Epistemology
* 4 Legal philosophy * 5 See also * 6 References * 7 Sources

LINGUISTICS

The debate on linguistic conventionalism goes back to Plato
Plato
's Cratylus and the Mīmāṃsā
Mīmāṃsā
philosophy of Kumārila Bhaṭṭa . It has been the standard position of modern linguistics since Ferdinand de Saussure 's l\'arbitraire du signe , but there have always been dissenting positions of phonosemantics , recently defended by Margaret Magnus and Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
.

GEOMETRY

The French mathematician Henri Poincaré
Henri Poincaré
was among the first to articulate a conventionalist view. Poincaré's use of non-Euclidean geometries in his work on differential equations convinced him that Euclidean geometry
Euclidean geometry
should not be regarded as a priori truth. He held that axioms in geometry should be chosen for the results they produce, not for their apparent coherence with human intuitions about the physical world.

EPISTEMOLOGY

Conventionalism was adopted by logical positivists , chiefly A. J. Ayer and Carl Hempel , and extended to both mathematics and logic. To deny rationalism , Ayer sees two options for empiricism regarding the necessity of the truth of formal logic (and mathematics): 1) deny that they actually are necessary, and then account for why they only appear so, or 2) claim that the truths of logic and mathematics lack factual content - they are not "truths about the world" - and then explain how they are nevertheless true and informative. John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
adopted the former, which Ayer criticized, opting himself for the latter. Ayer's argument relies primarily on the analytic/synthetic distinction .

The French philosopher Pierre Duhem
Pierre Duhem
espoused a broader conventionalist view encompassing all of science. Duhem was skeptical that human perceptions are sufficient to understand the "true," metaphysical nature of reality and argued that scientific laws should be valued mainly for their predictive power and correspondence with observations.

Karl Popper
Karl Popper
broadened the meaning of conventionalism still more. In The Logic of Scientific Discovery
The Logic of Scientific Discovery
, he defined a "conventionalist stratagem" as any technique that is used by a theorist to evade the consequences of a falsifying observation or experiment. Popper identified four such stratagems:

* introducing an ad hoc hypothesis which makes the refuting evidence seem irrelevant; * modifying the ostensive definitions so as to alter the content of a theory; * doubting the reliability of the experimenter; declaring that the observations that threaten the tested theory are irrelevant; * casting doubt on the acumen of the theorist when she does not produce ideas that can save the theory.

Popper argued that it was crucial to avoid conventionalist stratagems if falsifiability of a theory was to be preserved. It has been argued that the standard model of cosmology is built upon a set of conventionalist stratagems.

LEGAL PHILOSOPHY

Conventionalism, as applied to legal philosophy is one of the three rival conceptions of law constructed by American legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin
Ronald Dworkin
in his work Law\'s Empire . The other two conceptions of law are legal pragmatism and law as integrity .

According to conventionalism as defined by Dworkin, a community's legal institutions should contain clear social conventions relied upon which rules are promulgated. Such rules will serve as the sole source of information for all the community members because they demarcate clearly all the circumstances in which state coercion will and will not be exercised.

Dworkin nonetheless has argued that this justification fails to fit with facts as there are many occasions wherein clear applicable legal rules are absent. It follows that, as he maintained, conventionalism can provide no valid ground for state coercion . Dworkin himself favored law as integrity as the best justification of state coercion.

One famous criticism of Dworkin's idea comes from Stanley Fish who argues that Dworkin, like the Critical Legal Studies movement, Marxists
Marxists
and adherents of feminist jurisprudence , was guilty of a false 'Theory Hope'. Fish claims that such mistake stems from their mistaken belief that there exists a general or higher 'theory' that explains or constrains all fields of activity like state coercion.

Another criticism is based on Dworkin's assertion that positivists' claims amount to conventionalism. H. L. A. Hart
H. L. A. Hart
, as a soft positivist, denies such claim as he had pointed out that citizens cannot always discover the law as plain matter of fact. It is however unclear as to whether Joseph Raz
Joseph Raz
, an avowed hard positivist, can be classified as conventionalist as Raz has claimed that law is composed "exclusively" of social facts which could be complex, and thus difficult to be discovered.

In particular, Dworkin has characterized law as having the main function of restraining state's coercion. Nigel Simmonds has rejected Dworkin's disapproval of conventionalism, claiming that his characterization of law is too narrow.

SEE ALSO

* True name

REFERENCES

* ^ Ayer, Alfred Jules. Language, Truth and Logic
Language, Truth and Logic
, Dover Publications, Inc.: New York. 1952. p. 73. * ^ Merritt, David . "Cosmology and Convention", Studies In History and Philosophy
Philosophy
of Science
Science
Part B: Studies In History and Philosophy
Philosophy
of Modern Physics, 57(1):41-52, February 2017.

SOURCES

* The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Philosophy
entry on Henri Poincaré * "Pierre Duhem". Notes by David Huron * Mary Jo Nye, "The Boutroux Circle and Poincare\'s Conventionalism," Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 40, No. 1. (Jan. - Mar., 1979), pp. 107–120.

* v * t * e

Philosophy
Philosophy
of language

PHILOSOPHERS

* Plato
Plato
(Cratylus ) * Gorgias
Gorgias
* Confucius
Confucius
* Xunzi * Aristotle
Aristotle
* Stoics * Pyrrhonists * Scholasticism
Scholasticism
* Ibn Rushd * Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun
* Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
* Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz
* Johann Herder * Ludwig Noiré * Wilhelm von Humboldt
Wilhelm von Humboldt
* Fritz Mauthner * Paul Ricœur * Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
* Gottlob Frege
Gottlob Frege
* Franz Boas
Franz Boas
* Paul Tillich
Paul Tillich
* Edward Sapir
Edward Sapir
* Leonard Bloomfield * Zhuangzi * Henri Bergson
Henri Bergson
* Lev Vygotsky

* Ludwig Wittgenstein
Ludwig Wittgenstein

* Philosophical Investigations * Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus

* Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
* Rudolf Carnap
Rudolf Carnap

* Jacques Derrida

* Of Grammatology * Limited Inc

* Benjamin Lee Whorf
Benjamin Lee Whorf
* Gustav Bergmann * J. L. Austin * Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
* Hans-Georg Gadamer
Hans-Georg Gadamer
* Saul Kripke
Saul Kripke
* A. J. Ayer
A. J. Ayer
* G. E. M. Anscombe
G. E. M. Anscombe
* Jaakko Hintikka * Michael Dummett * Donald Davidson * Roger Gibson * Paul Grice * Gilbert Ryle * P. F. Strawson * Willard Van Orman Quine
Willard Van Orman Quine
* Hilary Putnam
Hilary Putnam
* David Lewis * John Searle * Joxe Azurmendi
Joxe Azurmendi
* Scott Soames * Stephen Yablo * John Hawthorne * Stephen Neale
Stephen Neale
* Paul Watzlawick
Paul Watzlawick

THEORIES

* Causal theory of reference * Contrast theory of meaning * Contrastivism * Conventionalism * Cratylism * Deconstruction
Deconstruction
* Descriptivist theory of names * Direct reference theory * Dramatism * Expressivism * Linguistic determinism * Logical atomism
Logical atomism
* Logical positivism * Mediated reference theory * Nominalism * Non-cognitivism * Phallogocentrism * Quietism * Relevance theory * Semantic externalism * Semantic holism * Structuralism
Structuralism
* Supposition theory * Symbiosism * Theological noncognitivism * Theory of descriptions * Verification theory

CONCEPTS

* Ambiguity * Linguistic relativity
Linguistic relativity
* Meaning * Language
Language
* Truth-bearer * Proposition * Use–mention distinction * Concept
Concept
* Categories * Set * Class * Intension * Logical form * Metalanguage * Mental representation * Principle of compositionality * Property * Sign * Sense and reference * Speech act * Symbol
Symbol
* Entity * Sentence * Statement * MORE...

RELATED ARTICLES

* Analytic philosophy
Analytic philosophy
* Philosophy
Philosophy
of information * Philosophical logic * Linguistics
Linguistics
* Pragmatics
Pragmatics
* Rhetoric
Rhetoric
* Semantics * Formal semantics * Semiotics
Semiotics

* Category * Task Force * Discussion

* v * t * e

Philosophy
Philosophy
of science

CONCEPTS

* Analysis * Analytic–synthetic distinction
Analytic–synthetic distinction
* A priori and a posteriori * Causality
Causality
* Commensurability * Consilience * Construct * Creative synthesis * Demarcation problem * Empirical evidence * Explanatory power
Explanatory power
* Fact * Falsifiability
Falsifiability
* Feminist method * Ignoramus et ignorabimus * Inductive reasoning
Inductive reasoning
* Intertheoretic reduction * Inquiry * Nature * Objectivity * Observation
Observation
* Paradigm * Problem of induction * Scientific law * Scientific method
Scientific method
* Scientific revolution
Scientific revolution
* Scientific theory
Scientific theory
* Testability * Theory choice * Theory-ladenness * Underdetermination * Unity of science

Metatheory of science

* Coherentism * Confirmation holism * Constructive empiricism * Constructive realism * Constructivist epistemology * Contextualism * Conventionalism * Deductive-nomological model * Hypothetico-deductive model * Inductionism * Epistemological anarchism
Epistemological anarchism
* Evolutionism * Fallibilism * Foundationalism * Instrumentalism * Pragmatism
Pragmatism
* Model-dependent realism * Naturalism * Physicalism * Positivism
Positivism
/ reductionism / determinism * Rationalism
Rationalism
/ empiricism * Received view / semantic view of theories * Scientific realism / anti-realism * Scientific essentialism * Scientific formalism * Scientific skepticism * Scientism * Structuralism
Structuralism
* Uniformitarianism * Vitalism
Vitalism

PHILOSOPHY OF

* Physics

* thermal and statistical * Motion

* Chemistry * Biology * Environment * Geography * Social science

* Technology

* Engineering * Artificial intelligence * Computer science

* Information * Mind * Psychiatry * Psychology * Perception * Space and time

RELATED TOPICS

* Alchemy
Alchemy
* Criticism of science
Criticism of science
* Epistemology
Epistemology
* Faith and rationality * History and philosophy of science * History of science * History of evolutionary thought
History of evolutionary thought
* Logic
Logic
* Metaphysics * Pseudoscience
Pseudoscience
* Relationship between religion and science * Rhetoric
Rhetoric
of science * Sociology of scientific knowledge
Sociology of scientific knowledge
* Sociology of scientific ignorance
Sociology of scientific ignorance

PHILOSOPHERS OF SCIENCE BY ERA

ANCIENT

* Plato
Plato
* Aristotle
Aristotle
* Stoicism
Stoicism
* Epicureans

MEDIEVAL

* Averroes
Averroes
* Avicenna
Avicenna
* Roger Bacon
Roger Bacon
* William of Ockham
William of Ockham
* Hugh of Saint Victor
Hugh of Saint Victor
* Dominicus Gundissalinus * Robert Kilwardby
Robert Kilwardby

EARLY MODERN

* Francis Bacon
Francis Bacon
* Thomas Hobbes
Thomas Hobbes
* René Descartes
René Descartes
* Galileo Galilei
Galileo Galilei
* Pierre Gassendi * Isaac Newton
Isaac Newton
* David Hume
David Hume

CLASSICAL MODERN

* Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
* Friedrich Schelling * William Whewell
William Whewell
* Auguste Comte
Auguste Comte
* John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
* Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer
* Wilhelm Wundt
Wilhelm Wundt
* Charles Sanders Peirce
Charles Sanders Peirce
* Wilhelm Windelband * Henri Poincaré
Henri Poincaré
* Pierre Duhem
Pierre Duhem
* Rudolf Steiner
Rudolf Steiner
* Karl Pearson
Karl Pearson

LATE MODERN

* Alfred North Whitehead
Alfred North Whitehead
* Bertrand Russell
Bertrand Russell
* Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
* Otto Neurath * C. D. Broad * Michael Polanyi * Hans Reichenbach * Rudolf Carnap
Rudolf Carnap
* Karl Popper
Karl Popper
* Carl Gustav Hempel * W. V. O. Quine * Thomas Kuhn * Imre Lakatos * Paul Feyerabend
Paul Feyerabend
* Jürgen Habermas