David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jonathan Jenkins Ichikawa
Jack Alan Reynolds
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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
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References found in this work BETA
Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.) (1970). Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press.
Thomas S. Kuhn (1996). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press.
Steve Fuller (2001). Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times. University of Chicago Press.
T. S. Kuhn (1980). The Essential Tension. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 31 (4):359-375.
Ian Hacking (1992). The Self-Vindication of the Laboratory Sciences. In Andrew Pickering (ed.), Science as Practice and Culture. University of Chicago Press 29--64.
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