Aspects of the logic of history-of-science explanation

Synthese 62 (3):429 - 454 (1985)
Abstract
The topic of history-of-science explanation is first briefly introduced as a generally important one for the light it may shed on action theory, on the logic of discovery, and on philosophy''s relations with historiography of science, intellectual history, and the sociology of knowledge. Then some problems and some conclusions are formulated by reference to some recent relevant literature: a critical analysis of Laudan''s views on the role of normative evaluations in rational explanations occasions the result that one must make aconceptual distinction between evaluations and explanations of belief, and that there are at leastthree subclasses of the latter, rational, critical, and theoretical; I then discuss the problem of whether explanations of discoveries are self-evidencing and predictive by focusing on views of Hempel and Nickles, and I attempt a formalization of some aspects of the problem. Finally, a more systematic and concrete analysis is undertaken by using as an example the explanation of Galileo''s rejection of space-proportionality, and it is argued that the historical explanation of scientific beliefs is a type of logical analysis.
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Thomas Nickles (1989). Heuristic Appraisal: A Proposal. Social Epistemology 3 (3):175 – 188.
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