Rational reconstructions revised

Theoria 16 (3):461-480 (2001)
Abstract
Imre Lakatos’ idea that history of science without philosophy of science is blind may still be given a plausible interpretation today, even though his theory of the methodology of scientific research programmes has been rejected. The latter theory captures neither rationality in science nor the sense in which history must be told in a rational fashion. Nonetheless, Lakatos was right in insisting that the discipline of history consists of written rational reconstructions. In this paper, we will examine possible ways to cash out different, philosophically interesting, relationships: between rationality and science, between rationality and philosophy of science and/or epistemology, and, of course, between history and philosophy of science. Our conclusion is that the historian of science may be a philosopher of science as weIl, but if that philosophy of science is essentially a historical and dogmatic, it either cannot be used for history or it will deprive history of some of its most interesting and useful categories
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