Front Page Titles (by Subject) Fumbling Toward Truth - Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
Fumbling Toward Truth - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, July/September 1978, vol. 1, No. 3 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
This work is copyrighted by the Institute for Humane Studies, George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, and is put online with their permission.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Fumbling Toward Truth
“Comment on ‘The Natural Selection Model of Conceptual Evolution.’” Philosophy of Science 44 (1977): 502–507.
Natural evolution may be the best model to described the intellectual process of scientific discovery and conceptual innovation. By contrast, another model posits an extreme rationalist “logic of discovery” which claims that intelligent solutions to problems must entail intelligent generation and a clairvoyant, unerring march to the truth. A better paradigm seems to be “fumbling in the dark” after the manner of biological evolution through natural selection. Poincaré and other classic narrators of the creative insight process confirm that we usually approach discoveries through intelligent errors and stumbling indirection. Problem solvers “naturally” generate a “wasteful” welter of idea variations; the selective retention of the best hypothesis proceeds through a groping process toward an “increasing fit” into the selective system.
Creative heuristics follow a natural-selectionist epistemology. The generating stage of discovery does not proceed by way of prescient, logically entailed truth but by “blind” variants, vague hunches, and conjectures; the editing, selecting stage of creativity does, however, employ logical consistency. Innovation involves the vital interplay of both “blind,” “subjective” hunches and rational, “objective” logic.