Path dependence in the production of scientific knowledge

Social Epistemology 23 (2):105 – 124 (2009)
Despite its proliferation in technology studies, the concept of “path dependence” has scarcely been applied to epistemology. In this essay, I investigate path dependence in the production of scientific knowledge, first, by considering Kuhn's scattered remarks that lend support to a path-dependence thesis (Section I) and second by developing and criticising Kuhn's embryonic account (Sections II and III). I examine a case from high-energy physics that brings the path-dependent nature of scientific knowledge to the fore and I pay attention to two sources of path dependence—“theoretical” and “instrumental”. The latter source is particularly important in “big science”. I ask in Section IV whether path dependence in scientific knowledge can lead to circumstances like those in the technological field, in which a theory can come to dominate a scientific speciality even though it is inferior to alternatives. In Section V, I ask what implications my thesis has for science policy
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/02691720902962813
 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: 15,865
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
T. S. Kuhn (1980). The Essential Tension. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 31 (4):359-375.

View all 11 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

23 ( #126,321 of 1,724,891 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #268,623 of 1,724,891 )

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.