The Persistence of Epistemic Objects Through Scientific Change

Erkenntnis 75 (3):413-429 (2011)
Why do some epistemic objects persist despite undergoing serious changes, while others go extinct in similar situations? Scientists have often been careless in deciding which epistemic objects to retain and which ones to eliminate; historians and philosophers of science have been on the whole much too unreflective in accepting the scientists’ decisions in this regard. Through a re-examination of the history of oxygen and phlogiston, I will illustrate the benefits to be gained from challenging and disturbing the commonly accepted continuities and discontinuities in the lives of epistemic objects. I will also outline two key consequences of such re-thinking. First, a fresh view on the (dis)continuities in key epistemic objects is apt to lead to informative revisions in recognized periods and trends in the history of science. Second, recognizing sources of continuity leads to a sympathetic view on extinct objects, which in turn problematizes the common monistic tendency in science and philosophy; this epistemological reorientation allows room for more pluralism in scientific practice itself.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s10670-011-9340-9
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,667
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Martin Kusch (2015). Scientific Pluralism and the Chemical Revolution. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 49:69-79.
David Ludwig (2013). Hysteria, Race, Phlogiston. A Model of Ontological Elimination in the Human Sciences. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences (1):68-77.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Jody Azzouni (2004). Theory, Observation and Scientific Realism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (3):371-392.
Panayot Butchvarov (1994). The Untruth and the Truth of Skepticism. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 67 (4):41 - 61.
E. Montuschi (2004). Rethinking Objectivity in Social Science. Social Epistemology 18 (2 & 3):109 – 122.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

88 ( #38,004 of 1,726,995 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

5 ( #136,555 of 1,726,995 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.