In the early eighteenth century, chemistry became the main academic locus where, in Francis Bacon's words, Experimenta lucifera were performed alongside Experimenta fructifera and where natural philosophy was coupled with natural history and 'experimentalhistory' in the Baconian and Boyleian sense of an inventory and exploration of the extant operations of the arts and crafts. The Dutch social and political system and the institutional setting of the university of Leiden endorsed this empiricist, utilitarian orientation toward the sciences, (...) which was forcefully propagated by one of the university's most famous representatives in the first half of the eighteenth century, the professor of medicine, botany and chemistry Herman Boerhaave. Recent historical investigations on Boerhaave's chemistry have provided important insights into Boerhaave's religious background, his theoretical and philosophical goals, and his pedagogical agenda. But comparatively little attention has been paid to the chemical experiments presented in Boerhaave's famous chemical textbook, the Elementa chemiae, and to the question of how these experiments relate not only to experimental philosophy but also to experimentalhistory and natural history, and to contemporary utilitarianism. I argue in this essay that Boerhaave shared a strong commitment to Baconian utilitarianism and empiricism with many other European chemists around the middle of the eighteenth century, in particular to what Bacon designated 'experimentalhistory' and I will provide evidence for this claim through a careful analysis of Boerhaave's plant-chemical experiments presented in the Elementa chemiae. (shrink)
: The paper examines differences of styles of experimentation in the history of science. It presents arguments for a historization of our historial and philosophical notion of "experimentation," which question the common view that "experimental philosophy" was the only style of experimentation in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. It argues, in particular, that "experimentalhistory" and technological inquiry were accepted styles of academic experimentation at the time. These arguments are corroborated by a careful analysis of (...) a case study, which is embedded in a comparative historical overview. (shrink)
Weighing of experience was a central concern of what Bacon called the “literate” stage of experimentation. As early as 1608, Bacon devised precise tenets for standard, quantitative reporting of experiments. These ideas were later integrated into his experimental histories proper. Bacon’s enquiry of dense and rare is the best example of experientia literata developed in a quantitative fashion. I suggest that Bacon’s ideas on this issue can be tied to experiments for the determination of specific gravities born in a (...) monetary context: Bacon’s investigation was very likely a generalization of Jean Bodin’s experiments in Universae naturae theatrum (1596). Overall, Bacon’s program of quantification calls for a revision of established historiographical notions, especially Thomas Kuhn’s sharp dichotomy between a mathematical and a Baconian experimental tradition in seventeenth-century science. (shrink)
In this paper I investigate the prospects of integrated history and philosophy of science, by examining how philosophical issues concerning experimental practice and scientific realism can enrich the historical investigation of the careers of "hidden entities", entities that are not accessible to unmediated observation. Conversely, I suggest that the history of those entities has important lessons to teach to the philosophy of science. My overall aim is to illustrate the possibility of a fruitful two-way traffic between (...) class='Hi'>history and philosophy of science. (shrink)
This article critically examines the views that psychology ?rst came into existence as a discipline ca. 1879, that philosophy and psychology were estranged in the ensuing decades, that psychology ?nally became scienti?c through the in?uence of logical empiricism, and that it should now disappear in favor of cognitive science and neuroscience. It argues that psychology had a natural philosophical phase (from antiquity) that waxed in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, that this psychology transformed into experimental psychology ca. 1900, that (...) philosophers and psychologists collaboratively discussed the subject matter and methods of psychology in the ?rst two decades of the twentieth century, that the neobehaviorists were not substantively in?uenced by the Vienna Circle, that the study of perception and cognition in psy- chology did not disappear in the behaviorist period and so did not reemerge as a result of arti?cial intelligence, linguistics, and the computer analogy, that although some psychologists adopted the language-of-thought approach of traditional cognitive science, many did not, and that psychology will not go away because it contributes independently of cognitive science and neuroscience. (shrink)
One view of philosophy that is sometimes expressed, especially by scientists, is that while philosophers are good at asking questions, they are poor at producing convincing answers. And the perceived divide between philosophical and scientific methods is often pointed to as the major culprit behind this lack of progress. Looking back at the history of philosophy, however, we find that this methodological divide is a relatively recent invention. Further, it is one that has been challenged over the past decade (...) by the modern incarnation of experimental philosophy. How might the reincorporation of empirical methods into philosophy aid the process of making philosophical progress? Building off of the work of Sytsma (2010), we argue that one way it does so is by offering a means of resolving some disputes that arise in philosophy. We illustrate how philosophical disputes may sometimes be resolved empirically by looking at the recent experimental literature on intuitions about reference. (shrink)
The article reevaluates the reception of Mendelism in France, and more generally considers the complex relationship between Mendelism and plant breeding in the first half on the 20th century. It shows on the one side that agricultural research and higher education institutions have played a key role in the development and institutionalization of genetics in France, whereas university biologists remained reluctant to accept this approach on heredity. But on the other side, plant breeders, and agricultural researchers, despite an interest in (...) Mendelism, never came to see it as the breeders' panacea, and regarded it instead as of only limited value for plant breeding. I account for this judgment in showing that the plant breeders and Mendelism designed two contrasting kinds of experimental systems and inhabited distinct experimental cultures. While Mendelian geneticists designed experimental systems that allowed the production of definite ratios of different forms that varied in relation to a few characters, plant breeders' experimental systems produced a wide range of variation, featuring combinations between hundreds of traits. Rather than breaking this multiple variation down into simple elements, breeders designed and monitored a genetic lottery. The gene was a unit in a Mendelian experimental culture, an "epistemic thing" as Rheinberger put it, that could be grasped by means of statistical regularities, but it remained of secondary importance for French plant breeders, for whom the strain or the variety -- not the gene -- was the fundamental unit of analysis and manipulation. (shrink)
This is a slightly longer version of an entry prepared for the 2nd edition of The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics, edited by Steven Durlauf and Lawrence Blume (Palgrave-Macmillan, forthcoming). Since the New Palgrave does not include acknowledgments, I should use this chance to thank Roger Backhouse, Philippe Fontaine, Daniel Kahneman, Kyu Sang Lee, Ivan Moscati, and Vernon Smith for their help and suggestions in preparing this paper.
In this article we present and compare two early attempts to establish psychology as an independent scientific discipline that had considerable influence in central Europe: the theories of Johann Friedrich Herbart (1776—1841) and Franz Brentano (1838—1917). While both of them emphasize that psychology ought to be conceived as an empirical science, their conceptions show revealing differences. Herbart starts with metaphysical principles and aims at mathematizing psychology, whereas Brentano rejects all metaphysics and bases his method on a conception of inner perception (...) (as opposed to inner observation) as a secondary consciousness, by means of which one gets to be aware of all of one’s own conscious phenomena. Brentano’s focus on inner perception brings him to deny the claim that there could be unconscious mental phenomena — a view that stands in sharp contrast to Herbart’s emphasis on unconscious, ‘repressed’ presentations as a core element of his mechanics of mind. Herbart, on the other hand, denies any role for psychological experiments, while Brentano encouraged laboratory work, thus paving the road for the more experimental work of his students like Stumpf and Meinong. By briefly tracing the fate of the schools of Herbart and Brentano, respectively, we aim to illustrate their impact on the development of psychological research, mainly in central Europe. (shrink)
After 1900, the selective breeding of a few standard animals for research in the life sciences changed the way science was done. Among the pervasive changes was a transformation in scientists' assumptions about relationship between diversity and generality. Examination of the contents of two prominent physiology journals between 1885 and 1900, reveals that scientists used a diverse array of organisms in empirical research. Experimental physiologists gave many reasons for the choice of test animals, some practical and others truly (...) comparative. But, despite strong philosophical differences in the approaches they represented, the view that it was best to incorporate as many species as possible into research on physiological processes was widespread in both periodicals. Authors aimed for generality, but they treated it as a conclusion that would or would not follow from the examination of many species. After 1900, an increasing emphasis on standardization, the growth of the experimental method and the growing industrialization of the life sciences led to a decline in the number of species used in research. In this context, the selective breeding of animals for science facilitated a change in assumptions about the relationship between generality and diversity. As animals were increasingly viewed as things that were assumed to be fundamentally similar, scientific generality became an a priori assumption rather than an empirical conclusion. (shrink)
Bionomics was a research approach invented by British biological scientists in the late nineteenth century and adopted by the American entomologist and evolutionist Vernon Lyman Kellogg in the early twentieth century. Kellogg hoped to use bionomics, which was the controlled observation and experimentation of organisms within settings that approximated their natural environments, to overcome the percieved weaknesses in the Darwinian natural selection theory. To this end, he established a bionomics laboratory at Stanford University, widely published results from his bionomic investigations, (...) and encouraged other biological researchers to adopt bionomics. (shrink)
Hasok Chang (Science & Education 20:317–341, 2011) shows how the recovery of past experimental knowledge, the physical replication of historical experiments, and the extension of recovered knowledge can increase scientific understanding. These activities can also play an important role in both science and history and philosophy of science education. In this paper I describe the implementation of an integrated learning project that I initiated, organized, and structured to complement a course in history and philosophy of the life (...) sciences (HPLS). The project focuses on the study and use of descriptions, observations, experiments, and recording techniques used by early microscopists to classify various species of water flea. The first published illustrations and descriptions of the water flea were included in the Dutch naturalist Jan Swammerdam’s, Historia Insectorum Generalis (1669) (Algemeene verhandeling van de bloedeloose dierkens. t’Utrrecht, Meinardus van Dreunen, ordinaris Drucker van d’Academie). After studying these, we first used the descriptions, techniques, and nomenclature recovered to observe, record, and classify the specimens collected from our university ponds. We then used updated recording techniques and image-based keys to observe and identify the specimens. The implementation of these newer techniques was guided in part by the observations and records that resulted from our use of the recovered historical methods of investigation. The series of HPLS labs constructed as part of this interdisciplinary project provided a space for students to consider and wrestle with the many philosophical issues that arise in the process of identifying an unknown organism and offered unique learning opportunities that engaged students’ curiosity and critical thinking skills. (shrink)
A central understanding in experimental economics is that subjects’ decisions in the lab are independent of history. We test whether this assumption of between-experiment independence is indeed justified. We analyze experiments with an allocation decision (like a dictator or ultimatum game) and find that participation in previous experiments tends to increase the amount subjects allocate to themselves. Hence, independence between experiments cannot be presumed if subjects participate repeatedly. The finding has implications for the interpretation of previous allocation decision (...) results and deserves attention when running future experiments. (shrink)
This article introduces a new model of the relationship between growth and learning and tests a set of hypotheses related to the development of adult competency using time allocation, anthropometric, and experimental task performance data collected between 1992 and 1997 in a multiethnic community in the Okavango Delta, Botswana. Building on seminal work in life history theory by Hawkes, Blurton Jones and associates, and Kaplan and associates, the punctuated development model presented here incorporates the effects of both growth (...) and learning constraints on age-specific task performance. In addition, the payoff to investment in two forms of embodied capital, growth-based and learning-based, are examined in relation to features of the socioecology, including subsistence economy and family composition.The three main findings are:The development of adult competency in specific tasks entails a steplike relationship between growth- and experience-based forms of embodied capital in the ontogeny of ability acquisition.There is a trade-off between the acquisition of experience-based embodied capital in the form of skills and knowledge and immediate productivity among children. Time allocation to these alternatives is primarily determined by the short- and long-term costs and benefits to parents of investment in children’s embodied capital.The availability of laborers and the overall labor requirements of the household are major determinants of investment in alternate forms of embodied capital and resulting variation in children’s time allocation. The value of children’s labor to their parents is dependent upon the opportunity costs to engaging in other activities not only for the child in question but also for potential substitute laborers.These results have important implications for our understanding of the role of growth and learning in the evolution of the human juvenile period, as well as for our understanding of cross-cultural variation in child growth and development and patterns of work and play. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: -- Introduction -- Setting the Scene -- Plato and Aristotle -- From the Roman Empire to the Empire of Islam -- The Western Middle Ages -- The Renaissance -- New Methods of Science -- Bringing Mathematics and Natural Philosophy Together -- Practice and Theory in Renaissance Medicine: William Harvey and the Circulation of the Blood -- The Spirit of System: Rene; Descartes and the Mechanical Philosophy -- The Royal Society and Experimental Philosophy -- Experiment, Mathematics, (...) and Magic: Isaac Newton -- Newton's Legacy: Forces and Fluids (electricity and heat) -- The Chemical Revolution: From Newton to John Dalton, via Priestley and Lavoisier -- Natural Theology and Natural Order: Newtonian Optimism and the History of Science -- The Making of Geology: From James Hutton to Charles Lyell via Catastrophism -- The History of Plants and Animals: Successive Emergence or Evolution? -- Religion and Progress in Victorian Britain: Robert Chambers versus Hugh Miller -- Bringing it All Together?: Charles Darwin's Evolution -- Darwinian Aftermaths: Religion; Social Science; Biology -- Beyond Newton: Energy and Thermodynamics -- Newton deposed: Einstein and Relativity Theory -- Mathematics instead of a World Picture: From Atomism to Quantum Theory -- Afterword. (shrink)
According to the methodological principle called ‘robustness’, empirical evidence is more reliable when it is generated using multiple, independent (experimental) routes that converge on the same result. As it happens, robustness as a methodological strategy is quite popular amongst philosophers. However, despite its popularity, my goal here is to criticize the value of this principle on historical grounds. My historical reasons take into consideration some recent history of astroparticle physics concerning the search for WIMPs (weakly interacting massive particles), (...) one of the main candidates for cosmic dark matter. On the basis of these reasons, I assert that robustness, at least in this historical case we are considering, has less value than usually assumed by philosophers. (shrink)
I. An introduction -- II. Russian futurism and the related currents -- III. Russian suprematism and constructivism -- IV. The OBERIU circle (Daniil Kharms and his associates) -- V. Russian experimental performance and theater -- VI. Avant-garde cinematography: Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov.
In France, Fair Trade arrived on the scene in the late twentieth century, and since then has passed through several experimental phases before becoming an enduring "realistic" economic alternative. To understand the transformation, this article defines Fair Trade as a social construct issues and tensions of which change depending on the point of entry. By conducting a secondary analysis of several data sets from varied sources, including documentary material, interviews, and observations, the authors trace the history of Fair (...) Trade in France, define its introduction as a system, describe its institutionalization, and contribute to a greater understanding of how its ideals have changed and become more professional over time. The analyses reveal that the term "Fair Trade" has become ambiguous, spanning divergent and conflicting ideas and projects, including opening and closing conventional market systems and alter-globaliza-tion and anti-globalization. (shrink)
In psychiatry, pharmacological drugs play an important experimental role in attempts to identify the neurobiological causes of mental disorders. Besides being developed in applied contexts as potential treatments for patients with mental disorders, pharmacological drugs play a crucial role in research contexts as experimental instruments that facilitate the formulation and revision of neurobiological theories of psychopathology. This paper examines the various epistemic functions that pharmacological drugs serve in the discovery, refinement, testing, and elaboration of neurobiological theories of mental (...) disorders. I articulate this thesis with reference to the history of antipsychotic drugs and the evolution of the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia in the second half of the twentieth century. I argue that interventions with psychiatric patients through the medium of antipsychotic drugs provide researchers with information and evidence about the neurobiological causes of schizophrenia. This analysis highlights the importance of pharmacological drugs as research tools in the generation of psychiatric knowledge and the dynamic relationship between practical and theoretical contexts in psychiatry. (shrink)
I use a recent 'experimental philosophy' study of the concept of the gene conducted by myself and collaborators to discuss the broader epistemological framework within which that research was conducted, and to reflect on the relationship between science, history and philosophy of science, and society.
The role of the Nobel Laureate Henry Dale (1875-1968) in the history of allergy and the association of anaphylactic conditions with the liberation of histamine is often overlooked. This paper examines his work in this field in the broader context of his researches into endogenous mediators of normal physiological and abnormal pathological functioning. It also assesses the impact of his working environment, especially the unique conditions he enjoyed at the beginning of the twentieth century in the Wellcome Physiological Research (...) Laboratories (WPRL). The WPRL belonged to the pharmaceutical manufacturer Henry Wellcome, and it was the juxtaposition of the routine commercial obligation of testing drugs for Burroughs, Wellcome & Co., with the opportunities of pursuing unfettered physiological research in well-equipped and supported laboratories, that resulted in what Dale referred to as 'happy accidents' when one set of results suggested experimental strategies and designs to another circumstance. In this way an observation of an unusual effect of an extract of ergot of rye led to collaborative chemical and physiological explorations which revealed the presence of histamine, previously known only as a synthetic product. Further work, accidentally facilitated by the fact that the WPRL produced serum anti-toxins commercially and surplus horse serum was used in experiments where other physiologists routinely used saline, hinted that histamine played a role in the symptom complex known as anaphylaxis. This paper explores some of these themes and elaborates their significance. (shrink)
Much of the early history of developmental and physiological genetics in Germany remains to be written. Together with Carl Correns and Richard Goldschmidt, Alfred Kühn occupies a special place in this history. Trained as a zoologist in Freiburg im Breisgau, he set out to integrate physiology, development and genetics in a particular experimental system based on the flour moth Ephestia kühniella Zeller. This paper is meant to reconstruct the crucial steps in the experimental pathway that (...) led Kühn and his collaborators at the University of Göttingen, and later at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institutes of Biology and Biochemistry in Berlin, to formulate, in their specific way, what later became known as the "one gene-one enzyme hypothesis." Special attention will be given to the interaction of the different parts of Kühn's Ephestia-based project, which were rooted in different research traditions. The paper retraces how, roughly between 1925 and 1945, these elements came to form a mixed experimental setup composed of genetic, embryological, physiological and, finally, biochemical constituents. Accordingly, emphasis is laid on the development of the terminology in which the results were cast, and how it reflected the hybrid state of an experimental system successively acquiring new epistemic layers. (shrink)
We examine the emergence of the field of life-history strategies during the 1950s. (We consider a 'field' an area of scientific activity consisting of a theoretical core, a subject of research, a vocabulary and research tools). During the late 1940s and early 1950s, population ecology faced many problems, concerning its conceptual framework, its mathematical models, experimental deficiencies, etc. Research on life-history characteristics remained descriptive, lacking explanations about the causes and significance of phenomena. This was due to the (...) deficiencies of the theoretical framework of population ecology up to the 1950s. The catalyzing factor for the emergence of the new field was the interdisciplinary impacts, and especially the impact of neodarwinism. The elaboration of a new theoretical core, invoking also methodological shifts, was the triggering factor, conditioning the emergence of the new field. (shrink)
Introduction -- Time and matter: temporality, embodied subjectivity and film phenomenology -- Knowing and nothing: Chris Marker, subjective temporalities and vocalic bodies in the future tense -- Agnès Varda's Trinket box: subjective relationality, affect and temporalised space -- Burlesque gestures and bodily attention: phenomenologies of the ephemeral in Chantal Akerman -- Threatened corporealities: thinking with the films of Philippe Grandrieux -- Conclusion: rethinking cinematic subjectivity and beyond.
To evaluate dispersal patterns and concentrations of macroscopic charcoal particles around Stollo settlements in sub-arctic Scandinavia, their distributions following experimental burning and soil concentrations around an alpine Stollo settlement dating between AD 700 and 1150 were recorded. After the burning 98% of recorded particles were 0.1-0.5 mm long, 90% were dispersed within 40 m of the fire, their mean concentration 40 m from the fire was 0.14±0.08 particles/cm2 and the concentration decreased with increasing distance. At the settlement, 95% of (...) recorded charcoal particles were 0.1-0.5 mm long, 94% were within 40 m of the hearths, the mean concentration declined with increasing distance, and concentrations were much lower than expected from the experimental burning (e.g. 17.6±2.4 particles/cm2, 40 m away). In conclusion: biological archives used for charcoal analysis in archaeological and vegetation history studies should be located ?40 m from settlements, and data obtained from charcoal analyses should be interpreted cautiously. (shrink)
Alan Turing draws a firm line between the mental and the physical, between the cognitive and physical sciences. For Turing, following a tradition that went back to D=Arcy Thompson, if not Geoffroy and Lucretius, throws talk of function, intentionality, and final causes from biology as a physical science. He likens Amother nature@ to the earnest A. I. scientist, who may send to school disparate versions of the Achild machine,@ eventually hoping for a test-passer but knowing that the vagaries of his (...)experimental course are history and accident. (shrink)
Two essential periods may be identified in the early stages of the history of vitamin D-resistant rickets. The first was the period during which a very well known deficiency disease, rickets, acquired a scientific status: this required the development of unifying principles to confer upon the newly developing science of pathology a doctrine without which it would have been condemned to remain a collection of unrelated facts with very little practical application. One first such unifying principle was provided by (...) the notion of hygiene; while the blanket explanations provided by this notion alone were much too general to enable rickets to achieve scientific status, it did point out the need to look for specific external causes for the disease and to examine the life-style and dietary habits of the patients. The second phase of the conceptualization of the disease was the assumption of a specific cause — that is, using concepts developed in the area of infectious diseases. This was made possible by fundamental similarities between deficiency and infectious diseases, in spite of their apparent differences. Both types of illness have some of the characteristics of what Georges Canguilhem calls the ontological representation of disease77 as opposed to dysharmonic representations, which primarily concern the endocrine diseases. It is precisely this shift from one to the other manner of perceiving ill health that enabled the identification of the vitamin D-resistant rickets. Conceptualization of the notion of vitamin D resistancy required that the conditions causing the disease be looked for within the organism rather than outside it; this was thus the first time that endocrine concepts were applied to studying the physiology of vitamin D.The history of resistant rickets therefore represents an interesting model for understanding the growth of biomedical knowledge. It allows the development of a number of more general ideas on the question of the relationship between biology and medicine and on the thorny problem of specificity in medical thinking. As far as this topic is concerned it can be seen that there was an ongoing exchange between medical and biological thinking during the initial period up until 1937, and that one could deny any such specificity in medical thinking during this same period. Albright, for example, used human diseases as spontaneously produced models for experimental biology. It was also more feasible for an experimental biologist to administer toxic doses than for a clinician to do so.What, then, if any, is the place of the specificity of medical thinking in this history? The fact that medicine is characterized not only by it ccognitive content78 but also by its final aim, which is to restore health, makes it necessary to take factors other than objective knowledge into consideration. This is particularly evident in two aspects of medicine, therapeutics and nosology, and in approaching the notion of pathological individuality.Therapeutic activity has a largely empirical approach. Many drugs, such as cod-liver oil, were discovered empirically. Treatment often in the past, and still now, has proceeded by trial and error, upon no established theoretical basis. At this level the relationship between biology and medicine is roughly comparable to that between science and technology79 \3- that is, it is impossible to reduce either therapeutics or technical activities to the simple application of basic science. In this sense, the application of vitamin D to vitamin-resistant rickets is quite typical. Further-more, in the case studied here, the therapeutic activity heralds a definite breaking away from the \ldvix medicatrix naturae\rd of conventional medicine dating back to ancient times, and it embodies a new concept of the organism and of disease: no longer can the diseased organism be thought of as merely having a perturbed equilibrium requiring restoration by means of a natural style of medicine. On the contrary, vitamin D resistance is an obstacle that indicates profound biological dysfunction, to be rectified only by means of an extremely aggressive and therefore dangerous therapy. The therapy thus serves to reveal the severity of the dysfunction, thereby leading inevitably to conceptual innovation. This sheds light on the theoretical innovations of which the therapeutic activity is capable.Therapeutic activity is also influenced by notions of health and illness, normal and pathological states, none of which may be determined entirely objectively.80 For example, the term healing as used by Albright in the case of resistant rickets that he described may be discussed in this light.Nosology, or the classification of diseases, depends largely on the description of clinical syndromes, which are themselves mainly based on subjective elements (discomfort, disability, or the extent of a patient's suffering). The advent of pathological anatomy at the beginning of the nineteenth century disrupted classification by introducing the concept of localized anatomical lesions81-and, hence, an element of material objectivity \3- into nosology. Radiological examination further complicated matters by enabling the equivalent of an autopsy on living matter. Lastly, biological examination complicated nosology by showing that biological anomalies may exist in human beings without necessarily leading to a pathological condition. Medical thinking can choose to combine all these elements to describe a disease, but can also separate them and retain only a few, or a single one, according to requirements \3- as did Albright.The notion of biological and pathological individuality is fundamental to the development of medical thinking. Whatever its theoretical origin, medical thinking has since ancient times incorporated the idea that each individual reacts differently to the same treatment and his own specific pathological tendencies. I mentioned earlier that in the history of vitamin D-resistant rickets the notion of rachitic tendency reflected this type of thinking. After 1937, this history progressed by successively separating new individual entities, affecting smaller and smaller groups of individuals in each case. In other words, the need to understand and to define individual illness more closely required the development of new concepts and the construction of new individual categories of disease linking these concepts to older clinical, radiological, and biochemical elements. (shrink)
I examine the consistency of Kant's notion of moral progress as found in his philosophy of history. To many commentators, Kant's very idea of moral development has seemed inconsistent with basic tenets of his critical philosophy. This idea has seemed incompatible with his claims that the moral law is unconditionally and universally valid, that moral agency is noumenal and atemporal, and that all humans are equally free. Against these charges, I argue not only that Kant's notion of moral development (...) is consistent, but also that the assumption of the possibility of moral progress is indispensible for Kant's moral theory. (shrink)
Thought experiments are ubiquitous in science and especially prominent in domains in which experimental and observational evidence is scarce. One such domain is the causal analysis of singular events in history. A long‐standing tradition that goes back to Max Weber addresses the issue by means of ‘what‐if’ counterfactuals. In this paper I give a descriptive account of this widely used method and argue that historians following it examine difference makers rather than causes in the philosopher’s sense. While difference (...) making is neither necessary nor sufficient for causation, to establish difference makers is more consistent with the historians’ more ultimate purposes. †To contact the author, please write to: Department of Philosophy, Erasmus University, 3000 DR Rotterdam, The Netherlands; e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. (shrink)
Summary: Responding to Laudan’s skeptical reading of history an influential group of realists claim that the seriously wrong claims past successful theories licensed were not really implicated in the predictions that once singled them out as successful. For example, in the case of Fresnel’s theory of light, it is said that although he appealed to the ether he didn’t actually need to in order to derive his famous experimental predictions—in them, we are assured, the ether concept was “idle,” (...) “inessential,” “peripheral” or worse. This view, developed by J. Worrall and P. Kitcher in the 1980s and subsequently supplemented by J. Leplin and by S. Psillos has received critical attention in the literature over the last decade, but more needs to be said on the subject—or so I suggest in this paper. I bring forward four converging argumentative lines to show how and why, from the days of Fresnel to at least the decade after the Michelson-Morley experiments, the ether functioned and was understood as an “essential” posit in physics. My first line draws Fresnel’s actual deployment of the ether concept and the way he and his circle understood the achievements of his theory. The second line draws is from epistemological assessments of surprising implication in theories and its impact on leading theorists in the last two-thirds of the century. The third line draws from discussions of the optical ether in end-of-century reports circa 1900. The fourth focuses on entrenched metaphysical assumptions that persisted in the practice of physics until the advent of special relativity. Pulling these four lines together shows, I think, (a) why attempts at synchronic identification of sound theory-parts (as advocated by Kitcher, Leplin and Psillos) are bound to fail, and also (b) how realists might try to meet the challenge this creates. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to argue that Kant's philosophy of biology has crucial implications for our understanding of his philosophy of history, and that overlooking these implications leads to a fundamental misconstruction of his views. More precisely, I will show that Kant's philosophy of history is modelled on his philosophy of biology due to the fact that the development of the human species shares a number of peculiar features with the functioning of organisms, these features entailing (...) important methodological characteristics. From this main claim will follow three further claims: (1) Kant's teleological view of history is not simply based on ethical considerations that have to do with the moral progress of the human species; rather, it stems from his conception of teleology as developed in his philosophy of biology. (2) Kant's philosophy of history allows for the practice of scientific history. In this sense, Kant's view of history is not merely teleological but involves a mechanical (and thus empirical) element. (3) Just as teleology is useful for furthering mechanical accounts of biological phenomena, teleological history is useful for scientific history. (shrink)
This is an attempt to interpret the history of mechanism vs. vitalism in relation to the changing framework of culture and to show the interrelation between both these views and experimental science. After the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century, causal mechanism of classical physics provided the framework for the study of nature. The teleological and holistic properties of life, however, which are incompatible with this theory yielded — as a result both of internal developments within biology and (...) of a general reaction against dogmatic rationalism — to a vitalistic interpretation of life which ascribed a mysterious force to living organisms. It will be shown that both mechanism and vitalism are related to the experimental climate of the time in which they were popular. The controversy has now lost its raison d'être as a result of the development of the theory of systems and of a better understanding of the chemistry and evolution of life. (shrink)
What are the relationships between philosophy and the history of philosophy, the history of science and the philosophy of science? This selection of essays by Lorenz Krüger (1932-1994) presents exemplary studies on the philosophy of John Locke and Immanuel Kant, on the history of physics and on the scope and limitations of scientific explanation, and a realistic understanding of science and truth. In his treatment of leading currents in 20th century philosophy, Krüger presents new and original arguments (...) for a deeper understanding of the continuity and dynamics of the development of scientific theory. These result in significant consequences for the claim of the sciences that they understand reality in a rational manner. The case studies are complemented by fundamental thoughts on the relationship between philosophy, science, and their common history. (shrink)
I show the sense in which the concept of history as a human science affects our theory of the natural sciences and, therefore, our theory of the unity of the physical and human sciences. The argument proceeds by way of reviewing the effect of the Darwinian contribution regarding teleologism and of post-Darwinian paleonanthropology on the transformation of the primate members of Homo sapiens into societies of historied selves. The strategy provides a novel way of recovering the unity of the (...) sciences: by construing the physical sciences themselves as human sciences - and, therefore, as themselves historied. (shrink)
: The increasing attention on experiment in the last two decades has led to important insights into its material, cultural and social dimensions. However, the role of experiment as a tool for generating knowledge has been comparatively poorly studied. What questions are asked in experimental research? How are they treated and eventually resolved? And how do questions, epistemic situations, and experimental activity cohere and shape each other? In my paper, I treat these problems on the basis of detailed (...) studies of research practice. After presenting several cases from the history of electricity—Dufay, Ampère, and Faraday—I discuss a specific type of experiment—the "exploratory experiment"—and analyze how it works in concept formation. I argue that a fuller understanding of experiment can only be achieved by intertwining historical and philosophical perspectives in such a way that the very separation of the two become questioable. (shrink)
Abstract In this essay I trace the role of history in the philosophy of art from the early twentieth century to the present, beginning with the rejection of history by formalists like Clive Bell. I then attempt to show how the arguments of people like Morris Weitz and Arthur Danto led to a re-appreciation of history by philosophers of art such as Richard Wollheim, Jerrold Levinson, Robert Stecker and others.
To date, no satisfactory account of the connection between natural-scientific and historical explanation has been given, and philosophers seem to have largely given up on the problem. This paper is an attempt to resolve this old issue and to sort out and clarify some areas of historical explanation by developing and applying a method that will be called “pragmatic explication” involving the construction of definitions that are justified on pragmatic grounds. Explanations in general can be divided into “dynamic” and “static” (...) explanations, which are those that essentially require relations across time and those that do not, respectively. The problem of assimilating historical explanations concerns dynamic explanation, so a general analysis of dynamic explanation that captures both the structure of natural-scientific and historical explanation is offered. This is done in three stages: In the first stage, pragmatic explication is introduced and compared to other philosophical methods of explication. In the second stage pragmatic explication is used to tie together a series of definitions that are introduced in order to establish an account of explanation. This involves an investigation of the conditions that play the role in historiography that laws and statistical regularities play in the natural sciences. The essay argues that in the natural sciences, as well as in history, the model of explanation presented represents the aims and overarching structure of actual causal explanations offered in those disciplines. In the third stage the system arrived at in the preceding stage is filled in with conditions available to and relevant for historical inquiry. Further, the nature and treatment of causes in history and everyday life are explored and related to the system being proposed. This in turn makes room for a view connecting aspects of historical explanation and what we generally take to be causal relations. (shrink)
Although first published in 1969, the methodological views advanced in Quentin Skinner's “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” remain relevant today. In his article Skinner suggests that it would be inappropriate to even attempt to write the history of any idea or concept. In support of this view, Skinner advances two arguments, one derived from the philosophy of the later Wittgenstein and the other from that of J. L. Austin. In this paper I focus on the (...) first of these arguments. I claim that the conclusion which Skinner draws from this particular argument does not necessarily follow and that an alternative assessment of the methodological significance of Wittgenstein's philosophy for historians of ideas is possible. On this alternative view, far from ruling out conceptual history, an appeal to the view of meaning set out in Wittgenstein's Philosophical Investigations leads to a quite different conclusion, namely that the writing of such a history is arguably a necessary precondition for the elucidation of the meaning of a number of the core concepts in the canon of the history of political thought. Skinner's views have changed somewhat since 1969. Indeed, from the mid 1970s onwards he came to relax the strict opposition to the idea of conceptual history to which he was then committed. The paper concludes by noting that this evolution in Skinner's thinking has made him much more sympathetic than anybody reading “Meaning and Understanding in the History of Ideas” would have imagined to the research project of the Begriffgeschichte School of conceptual history. (shrink)
One of the most influential and significant developments in the philosophy of language over the last thirty years has been the rise of externalist conceptions of content. This essay aims to explore the implications of a form of externalism, largely derived from the work of Donald Davidson, for thinking about history, and in so doing to suggest one way in which contemporary philosophy of language may engage with contemporary philosophy of history. Much of the discussion focuses on the (...) elaboration of the externalism that is at issue, along with the holistic approach to content with which it is connected. It will be argued that such holistic externalism is itself thoroughly in keeping with the very character of historical inquiry itself, and can be seen to provide an underpinning to certain contemporary developments in historical thinking. (shrink)