Kitcher's compromise: A critical examination of the compromise model of scientific closure, and its implications for the relationship between history and philosophy of science

In The Advancement of Science (1993) Philip Kitcher develops what he calls the 'Compromise Model' of the closure of scientific debates. The model is designed to acknowledge significant elements from 'Rationalist' and 'Antirationalist' accounts of science, without succumbing to the one-sidedness of either. As part of an ambitious naturalistic account of scientific progress, Kitcher's model succeeds to the extent that transitions in the history of science satisfy its several conditions. I critically evaluate the Compromise Model by identifying its crucial assumptions and by attempting to apply the model to a major transition in the history of biology: the rejection of 'naive group selectionism' in the 1960s. I argue that the weaknesses and limitations of Kitcher's model exemplify general problems facing philosophical models of scientific change, and that recognition of these problems supports a more modest vision of the relationship between historical and philosophical accounts of science.
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(96)00023-4
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