Pragmatism, Instrumentalism… Functionalism?

(By Jen Schellinck)

At this week’s lab meeting, Jeremy presented his work on pragmatism and the knowledge layer. He discussed the philosophical underpinnings and implications of the knowledge layer, as well as its tangible role in the development of autonomous systems.

Following his very interesting and information dense talk, a discussion about the relationships between pragmatism, instrumentalism and scientific realism broke out. Rob also threw functionalism into the mix.

Although at times these discussions of ‘isms’ can seem a bit esoteric, they do have real implications for the development of new theories and techniques – in this case techniques for the development of autonomous systems – as well as the ways in which science is conducted more broadly. Related to this, a newly published essay in Aeon has a very nice discussion about the role of scientific realism and the ways in which it arguably impedes scientific progress.

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