Learning from the past: Reflections on the role of history in the philosophy of science

Synthese 67 (1):91 - 114 (1986)
Abstract
In recent years philosophers of science have turned away from positivist programs for explicating scientific rationality through detailed accounts of scientific procedure and turned toward large-scale accounts of scientific change. One important motivation for this was better fit with the history of science. Paying particular attention to the large-scale theories of Lakatos and Laudan I argue that the history of science is no better accommodated by the new large-scale theories than it was by the earlier positivist philosophies of science; both are, in their different ways, parochial to our conception of rationality. I further argue that the goal of scientific methodology is not explaining the past but promoting good scientific practice, and on this the large-scale methodologies have no obvious a priori advantages over the positivist methodologies they have tried to replace.
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    References found in this work BETA
    James Robert Brown (1980). History and the Norms of Science. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:236 - 248.
    Clark Glymour (1980). Theory and Evidence. Princeton University Press.

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    Citations of this work BETA
    Andrew T. Domondon (2009). Kuhn, Popper, and the Superconducting Supercollider. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (3):301-314.
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