What are some quotes from Stephen Toulmin.

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A man demonstrates his rationality, not by a commitment to fixed ideas, stereotyped procedures, or immutable concepts, but by the manner in which, on occasions on which, he changes those ideas, procedures, and concepts.

Toulmin is interested in questions of argumentation and relativity vs. absolutism. He breaks with many philosophers...

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A man demonstrates his rationality, not by a commitment to fixed ideas, stereotyped procedures, or immutable concepts, but by the manner in which, on occasions on which, he changes those ideas, procedures, and concepts.

Toulmin is interested in questions of argumentation and relativity vs. absolutism. He breaks with many philosophers who he sees as overly focused on fixed ideas, while also pushing back against what he sees as the overly relativistic approach taken by many anthropologists. Instead, Toulmin posits that good philosophy can distinguish between and take into account both "field dependent" and "field independent" ideas. That is, philosophy can distinguish between ideas that are relevant to a specific context and ideas that are more generally true. In this quote, Toulmin makes clear that he views the sign of rationality not as having found a certain set of "right ideas," but as a tool that people display as they evaluate new ideas and choose whether to accept or reject them.

The picture of the natural world we all take for granted today, has one remarkable feature, which cannot be ignored in any study of the ancestry of science: it is a historical picture.

Toulmin is a harsh critic of modern science, pointing out that the abstract approach to knowledge for knowledge's sake, divorced of all questions of morality and context, led to the construction of nuclear weapons and other technologies that have been massively destructive. Toulmin emphasizes the need to contextualize scientific questions along lines of time, place, and morality. Here, Toulmin applies these ideas to the question of how we view the "natural world." While it is easy to assume that what we think of as "natural" has always existed in more or less the form that it does not, this is not true. Both due to large scale ecological changes such as ice ages and due to the massive ecologically destructive impact human activity has had on global ecosystems, the way the world exists right now is a historically specific reality.

Additionally, Toulmin calls on us to scrutinize the difference between the picture we have of the world and the world itself. The way in which we view the world is heavily effected by the kinds of stories we read and the lens with which we're taught to interact with the world. We have no unfiltered way to interact with the world.

There is no way of cutting ourselves free of our conceptual inheritance: all we are required to do is use our experience critically and discriminatingly, refining and improving our inherited ideas, and determining more exactly the limits to their scope.

Here, Toulmin further explores questions of epistemology, making clear that he finds it important to recognize that we are grounded in specific historical movements and are not merely grappling with abstract ideas outside of any context. While it is easy to conceptualize philosophers as simply interacting with the world of ideas and chasing after truth, the ideas that we are familiar with vary massively from person to person, culture to culture, and from one time period to another. This is what Toulmin refers to as our "conceptual inheritance." It is not necessarily a bad thing, it is simply the way the world works. It is only a problem if we forget this and act as though we exist outside of our specific context.

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