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

Synthese 67 (1):91 - 114 (1986)
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
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/BF00485512
 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: 15,974
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
Clark Glymour (1980). Theory and Evidence. Princeton University Press.

View all 14 references / Add more references

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.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Peter Barker (1980). Can Scientific History Repeat? PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:20 - 28.
Daniel Little (2000). Explaining Large-Scale Historical Change. Philosophy of the Social Sciences 30 (1):89-112.
James W. McAllister (1986). Theory-Assessment in the Historiography of Science. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37 (3):315-333.
Joseph Rouse (1998). New Philosophies of Science in North America — Twenty Years Later. Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 29 (1):71-122.
B. Larvor (2003). Why Did Kuhn's Structure of Scientific Revolutions Cause a Fuss? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34 (2):369-390.
James T. Cushing (1990). Is Scientific Methodology Interestingly Atemporal? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41 (2):177-194.
Ronald C. Curtis (1986). Are Methodologies Theories of Scientific Rationality? British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 37 (1):135-161.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

25 ( #119,281 of 1,725,835 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

6 ( #110,125 of 1,725,835 )

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.