About this topic
Summary In the fairly strict sense understood here, the idea of a research program(me) was introduced and developed by Imre Lakatos in a number of papers in the late 1960's and early 1970's.  Lakatos may be seen as seeking some sort of reconciliation of the views of Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn.  Lakatos characterized research programs as consisting of a hard core of central theoretical principles or laws, surrounded by a protective belt of auxiliary hypotheses.  Research programs are series or sequences of theories which are connected by the hard core of the program which all members of the program share.  The hard core of a research program is not open to modification.  However, the protective belt may be altered, and changes to the protective belt constitute shifts between different phases of the research program.  Research programs are capable of making progress in a theoretical sense when they make predictions, as well as in an empirical sense when the predictions are confirmed.  Programs are evaluated in terms of their progressiveness, and a rational choice between competing programs is made on the basis of comparative judgements of progress. In some respects, Lakatos's idea of a research programme is intended as a refinement of Kuhn's idea of a paradigm.  Larry Laudan later developed a related proposal with his notion of a research tradition.
Key works The classic reference for Lakatos is his paper  (see Imre 1970).  Lakatos addresses the question of how to evaluate competing theories of scientific method in his Lakatos 1971.  These and other papers are reprinted in his collected papers (see Lakatos 1978 and Lakatos 1978).  An important text relevant to the issue of research programs is Lakatos & Musgrave 1970, which contains contributions by Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend, among others, in addition to Lakatos's 'Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes'.  Laudan 1977 contains good discussion of the idea of a research program, as well as related discussion of Kuhn, and Laudan's own idea of a research tradition.  An interesting discussion of Lakatos may be found in Ian Hacking's review of the collected papers (see Hacking 1979).
Introductions Chalmers 1982
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  1. The Legacy of Lakatos.Joseph Agassi - 1979 - Philosophy of the Social Sciences 9 (3):316-326.
  2. The Lakatosian Revolution.Joseph Agassi - 1976 - In R. S. Cohen, P. K. Feyerabend & M. Wartofsky (eds.), Essays in Memory of Imre Lakatos. Reidel. pp. 9--21.
  3. Research Programmes and Empirical Results.F. M. Akeroyd - 1988 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39 (1):51-58.
  4. Imre Lakatos: A Critical Appraisal.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Imre Lakatos holds a well-deserved primary place in current philosophy of science. In this essay, Leslie Allan critically examines Lakatos' theory of knowledge in two key areas. The first area of consideration is Lakatos' notion that knowledge is gained through a process of competition between rival scientific research programmes. Allan identifies and discusses four problems with Lakatos' characterization of a research programme. Next, Allan considers Lakatos' proposed test of adequacy for theories of rationality using his methodology of historiographical research programmes. (...)
  5. Towards an Objective Theory of Rationality.Leslie Allan - manuscript
    Drawing on insights from Imre Lakatos' seminal work on theories of rationality, Leslie Allan develops seven criteria for rational theory choice that avoid presuming the rationality of the scientific enterprise. He shows how his axioms of rationality follow from the general demands of an objectivist epistemology. Allan concludes by considering two weighty objections to his framework.
  6. In the Tracks of the Historicist Movement: Re-Assessing the Carnap-Kuhn Connection.Guy S. Axtell - 1993 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 24 (1):119-146.
    Thirty years after the publication of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, sharp disagreement persists concerning the implications of Kuhn’s "historicist" challenge to empiricism. I discuss the historicist movement over the past thirty years, and the extent to which the discourse between two branches of the historical school has been influenced by tacit assumptions shared with Rudolf Carnap’s empiricism. I begin with an examination of Carnap’s logicism --his logic of science-- and his 1960 correspondence with Kuhn. I focus on (...)
  7. Conceptual Tensions Between Theory and Program: The Chromosome Theory and the Mendelian Research Program. [REVIEW]Gerrit Balen - 1987 - Biology and Philosophy 2 (4):435-461.
    Laudan's thesis that conceptual problem solving is at least as important as empirical problem solving in scientific research is given support by a study of the relation between the chromosome theory and the Mendelian research program. It will be shown that there existed a conceptual tension between the chromosome theory and the Mendelian program. This tension was to be resolved by changing the constraints of the Mendelian program. The relation between the chromosome theory and the Mendelian program is shown to (...)
  8. Can Scientific History Repeat?Peter Barker - 1980 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1980:20 - 28.
    Although Kuhn, Lakatos and Laudan disagree on many points, these three widely accepted accounts of scientific growth do agree on certain key features of scientific revolutions. This minimal agreement is sufficient to place stringent restraints on the historical development of science. In particular it follows from the common features of their accounts that scientific history can never repeat. Using the term 'supertheory' to denote indifferently the large scale historical entitites employed in all three accounts, it is shown that a supertheory (...)
  9. "Essays in Memory of Imre Lakatos," Ed. Robert S. Cohen, Paul K. Feyerabend, and Marx W. Wartofsky.Steven James Bartlett - 1978 - Modern Schoolman 55 (3):292-294.
  10. Forschungsprogramm Und WissenschaftsentwicklungResearch Programme and Development of Science.Kurt Bayertz - 1991 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 22 (2):229-243.
    Summary For Imre Lakatos hismethodology of scientific research programmes was not only a philosophical theory of science and scientific change but also the conceptual foundation of empirical and historical studies of science. At least terminologically this view is today widely accepted: The concept of aresearch programme is used in all sorts of literature on science. In the present paper I argue that this concept can lead to serious distortions of empirical and historical studies of science if it is not detached (...)
  11. Forschungsprogramm Und Wissenschaftsentwicklung.Kurt Bayertz - 1991 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 22 (2):229 - 243.
    Research Programme and Development of Science. For Imre Lakatos his methodology of scientific research programmes was not only a philosophical theory of science and scientific change but also the conceptual foundation of empirical and historical studies of science. At least terminologically this view is today widely accepted: The concept of a research programme is used in all sorts of literature on science. In the present paper I argue that this concept can lead to serious distortions of empirical and historical studies (...)
  12. The Methodology of Hermeneutical Research Programmes in Biblical Studies: Some Insights From the Work of Imre Lakatos.Richard S. Briggs - 2009 - Heythrop Journal 50 (1):109-115.
  13. Lakatos Und Bohrs Programm.Martin Carrier - 1983 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 14 (2):368-371.
    In a paper published in this Journal, Hans Radder argues that a detailed analysis of the degenerating phase of Bohr's programme reveals the basic incorrectness of Lakatos' own reconstruction of this period. Furthermore the corrected version shows the impossibility to account for the development in Lakatosian concepts. In this reply I try to point out that a slight modification of Lakatos' reconstruction is sufficient for reconciling the theory with the historical data. It is not Lakatos's theory itself that causes the (...)
  14. Philosophical Papers By Imre Lakatos Edited by John Worrall and Gregory Currie Vol. I, The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes, Viii + 250 Pp., £9.00 Vol. II, Mathematics, Science and Epistemology, X + 286 Pp., £10.50 Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1978. [REVIEW]L. Jonathan Cohen - 1979 - Philosophy 54 (208):247-.
  15. Essays in Memory of Imre Lakatos.R. S. Cohen, P. K. Feyerabend & M. Wartofsky (eds.) - 1976 - Reidel.
  16. Cognitive Architectures as Lakatosian Research Programs: Two Case Studies.Richard P. Cooper - 2006 - Philosophical Psychology 19 (2):199-220.
    Cognitive architectures - task-general theories of the structure and function of the complete cognitive system - are sometimes argued to be more akin to frameworks or belief systems than scientific theories. The argument stems from the apparent non-falsifiability of existing cognitive architectures. Newell was aware of this criticism and argued that architectures should be viewed not as theories subject to Popperian falsification, but rather as Lakatosian research programs based on cumulative growth. Newell's argument is undermined because he failed to demonstrate (...)
  17. The Role of Normative Assumptions in Historical Explanation.Gregory Currie - 1980 - Philosophy of Science 47 (3):456-473.
    This paper concerns the problem of how to give historical explanations of scientist's decisions to prefer one theory over another. It is argued that such explanations ought to contain only statements about the beliefs and preferences of the agents involved, and, in particular, ought not to include evaluative premises about the theories themselves. It is argued that Lakatos's attempt to build into such historical explanations premises of an evaluative kind is deficient. The arguments of Laudan to the effect that such (...)
  18. Models and Methodologies in Current Theoretical High-Energy Physics.James T. Cushing - 1982 - Synthese 50 (1):5 - 101.
    A case study of the development of quantum field theory and of S-matrix theory, from their inceptions to the present, is presented. The descriptions of science given by Kuhn and by Lakatos are compared and contrasted as they apply to this case study. The episodes of the developments of these theories are then considered as candidates for competing research programs in Lakatos' methodology of scientific research programs. Lakatos' scheme provides a reasonable overall description and a plausible assessment of the relative (...)
  19. Research Programs, Rationality, and Ethics.Gene D'Amour - 1976 - In R. S. Cohen, P. K. Feyerabend & M. Wartofsky (eds.), Essays in Memory of Imre Lakatos. Reidel. pp. 87--98.
  20. Beyond the Methodology of Mathematics Research Programmes.Corfield David - 1998 - Philosophia Mathematica 6 (3):272-301.
    In this paper I assess the obstacles to a transfer of Lakatos's methodology of scientific research programmes to mathematics. I argue that, if we are to use something akin to this methodology to discuss modern mathematics with its interweaving theoretical development, we shall require a more intricate construction and we shall have to move still further away from seeing mathematical knowledge as a collection of statements. I also examine the notion of rivalry within mathematics and claim that this appears to (...)
  21. Einstein's Revolution: A Study in HeuristicElie Zahar.Robert DiSalle - 1990 - Isis 81 (4):809-810.
  22. Introduction to the Archives of Imre Lakatos, 1922-1974.Sue Donnelly - 2006 - Perspectives on Science 14 (3):347-353.
  23. Bayesian Personalism, the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes, and Duhem's Problem.Jon Dorling - 1979 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 10 (3):177-187.
    The detailed analysis of a particular quasi-historical numerical example is used to illustrate the way in which a Bayesian personalist approach to scientific inference resolves the Duhemian problem of which of a conjunction of hypotheses to reject when they jointly yield a prediction which is refuted. Numbers intended to be approximately historically accurate for my example show, in agreement with the views of Lakatos, that a refutation need have astonishingly little effect on a scientist's confidence in the ‘hard core’ of (...)
  24. Response to Phillips and Nicolayev: Kohlberg's "Research Program".David P. Ericson - 1979 - Educational Theory 29 (4):345-348.
  25. Problems of Empiricism.Paul Feyerabend - 1981 - Cambridge University Press.
    Over the past thirty years Paul Feyerabend has developed an extremely distinctive and influentical approach to problems in the philosophy of science. The most important and seminal of his published essays are collected here in two volumes, with new introductions to provide an overview and historical perspective on the discussions of each part. Volume 1 presents papers on the interpretation of scientific theories, together with papers applying the views developed to particular problems in philosophy and physics. The essays in volume (...)
  26. Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge.Maurice A. Finocchiaro - 1973 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 3 (4):357-372.
  27. From the Method of Proofs and Refutations to the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.Gábor Forrai - 1993 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7 (2):161-175.
    Abstract The paper is an attempt to interpret Imre Lakatos's methodology of scientific research programmes (MSRP) on the basis of his mathematical methodology, the method of proofs and refutations (MPR). After sketching MSRP and MPR and analysing their relationship to Popper's and Poly a's work, I argue that MSRP was originally conceived as a methodology in the same sense as MPR. The most conspicuous difference between the two, namely that MSRP is fundamentally backward?looking, whereas MPR is primarily forward?looking, is due (...)
  28. The Career of Continental Drift Theory: An Application of Imre Lakatos' Analysis of Scientific Growth to the Rise of Drift Theory.Henry Frankel - 1979 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 10 (1):21-66.
  29. Methodologies of Science as Tools for Historical Research.Yehudah Freundlich - 1980 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 11 (4):257-266.
  30. Radicals and Types.Hannah Gay - 1976 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 7 (1):1-51.
  31. The 'Popperian Programme' and Mathematics - Part II: From Quasi-Empiricism to Mathematical Research Programmes.E. Glas - 2001 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 32 (2):355-376.
    In the first part of this article I investigated the Popperian roots of Lakatos's Proofs and Refutations, which was an attempt to apply, and thereby to test, Popper's theory of knowledge in a field-mathematics-to which it had not primarily been intended to apply. While Popper's theory of knowledge stood up gloriously to this test, the new application gave rise to new insights into the heuristic of mathematical development, which necessitated further clarification and improvement of some Popperian methodological maxims. In the (...)
  32. Kuhn, Lakatos, and the Image of Mathematics.Eduard Glas - 1995 - Philosophia Mathematica 3 (3):225-247.
    In this paper I explore possibilities of bringing post-positivist philosophies of empirical science to bear on the dynamics of mathematical development. This is done by way of a convergent accommodation of a mathematical version of Lakatos's methodology of research programmes, and a version of Kuhn's account of scientific change that is made applicable to mathematics by cleansing it of all references to the psychology of perception. The resulting view is argued in the light of two case histories of radical conceptual (...)
  33. The Evolution of the Individual.Peter Godfrey-Smith - manuscript
    Sometimes themes can be found in common across very different systems in which change occurs. Imre Lakatos developed a theory of change in science, and one involving entities visible at different levels. There are theories defended at a particular time, and there are also research programs, larger units that bundle together a sequence of related theories and within which many scientists may work. Research programs are competing higher-level units within a scientific field. Scientific change involves change within research programs, and (...)
  34. Lakatos's Approach on Prediction and Novel Facts.Wenceslao J. Gonzalez - 2001 - Theoria 16 (3):499-518.
    Lakatos’s approach to prediction and novel facts is of considerable interest. Prediction appears in his conception in at least three different levels: a) as an important aim of the research programs; b) as a procedure -a key method- for increasing our scientific knowledge both theoretically and empirically; and c) as the way to assess the scientific character of knowledge claims -means for evaluating results-. At all these levels he envisions a close connection between prediction and novel facts. The paper has (...)
  35. Imre Lakatos's Philosophy of Science. [REVIEW]Ian Hacking - 1979 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30 (4):381-402.
  36. Review: Imre Lakatos's Philosophy of Science. [REVIEW]Ian Hacking - 1979 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 30 (4):381 - 402.
  37. A Response to the Critique of Rational Choice Theory: Lakatos' and Laudan's Conceptions Applied.Kaisa Herne & Maija Setälä - 2004 - Inquiry 47 (1):67 – 85.
    This paper analyzes the main features of rational choice theory and evaluates it with respect to the conceptions of Lakatos' research program and Laudan's research tradition. The analysis reveals that the thin rationality assumption, the axiomatic method and the reduction to the micro level are the only features shared by all rational choice models. On these grounds, it is argued that rational choice theory cannot be characterized as a research program. This is due to the fact that the thin rationality (...)
  38. Is Quantum Chemistry a Degenerating Research Programme?Hinne Hettema - 2008 - Logic and Philosophy of Science 6 (1):3-23.
    This note is intended to address one particular issue in the relative status of Quantum Chemistry in comparison to both Chemistry and Physics. It has been suggested, in the context of the question of the reduction relations between Chemistry and Physics that Quantum Chemistry as a research programme is incapable of furnishing useful guidance to practising chemists. If true, this claim will let us qualify Quantum Chemistry as a degenerating research programme, which, due to its complexity has difficulty to be (...)
  39. Method and Appraisal in the Physical Sciences: The Critical Background to Modern Science, 1800-1905.Colin Howson (ed.) - 1976 - Cambridge University Press.
    Lakatos, I. History of science and its rational reconstructions.--Clark, P. Atomism vs. thermodynamics.--Worrall, J. Thomas Young and the "rufutation" of Newtonian optics.--Musgrave, A. Why did oxygen supplant phlogiston?--Zahar, E. Why did Einstein's programme supersede Lorentz's?--Frické, M. The rejection of Avogadro's hypotheses.--Feyerabend, P. On the critique of scientific reason.
  40. Essays in Memory of Imre Lakatos Edited by R. S. Cohen, P. K. Feyerabend and M. W. Wartofsky (Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Vol. Xxxix; Synthese Library, Vol. 99) D. Reidel, Dordrecht, Holland/Boston, U.S.A., 1976. Xi + 768pp. Cloth $62.00; Paper $34.00. [REVIEW]Nicholas Jardine - 1978 - Philosophy 53 (203):119-.
  41. String Theory and General Methodology: A Mutual Evaluation.Lars-Göran Johansson & Keizo Matsubara - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 42 (3):199-210.
    String theory has been the dominating research field in theoretical physics during the last decades. Despite the considerable time elapse, no new testable predictions have been derived by string theorists and it is understandable that doubts have been voiced. Some people have argued that it is time to give up since testability is wanting. But the majority has not been convinced and they continue to believe that string theory is the right way to go. This situation is interesting for philosophy (...)
  42. Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason.John Kadvany - 2001 - Duke University Press.
    The Hungarian émigré Imre Lakatos earned a worldwide reputation through the influential philosophy of science debates involving Thomas Kuhn, Paul Feyerabend, and Sir Karl Popper. In _Imre Lakatos and the Guises of Reason_ John Kadvany shows that embedded in Lakatos’s English-language work is a remarkable historical philosophy rooted in his Hungarian past. Below the surface of his life as an Anglo-American philosopher of science and mathematics, Lakatos covertly introduced novel transformations of Hegelian and Marxist ideas about historiography, skepticism, criticism, and (...)
  43. An Ideal Model for the Growth of Knowledge in Research Programs.Aharon Kantorovich - 1978 - Philosophy of Science 45 (2):250-272.
    In this paper a model is presented for the growth of knowledge in a dynamic scientific system. A system which is in some respects an idealization of a Lakatosian research program. The kinematics of the system is described in terms of two probabilistic variables, one of which is related to the evolution of its theoretical component and the other--to the growth of the empirical component. It is shown that when the empirical growth is faster than the theoretical growth the posterior (...)
  44. Heuristic, Methodology or Logic of Discovery? Lakatos on Patterns of Thinking.Olga Kiss - 2006 - Perspectives on Science 14 (3):302-317.
    Heuristic is a central concept of Lakatos' philosophy both in his early works and in his later work, the methodology of scientific research programs. The term itself, however, went through significant change of meaning. In this paper I study this change and the ‘metaphysical' commitments behind it. In order to do so, I turn to his mathematical heuristic elaborated in Proofs and Refutations. I aim to show the dialogical character of mathematical knowledge in his account, which can open a door (...)
  45. Darwin's and Wallace's Revolutionary Research Programme.Scott A. Kleiner - 1985 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 36 (4):367-392.
    Research programmes are sets of problems preferred on epistemic grounds and including preferred heuristics for inquiry. Charles Lyell's research programme for biogeograpy includes the problem of explaining the distribution of species constrained by laws governing locomotion and containment of species. Included in the programme are laws governing the supernatural introduction of replacement species. Wallace and Darwin derected arguments against the putative intelligibility of this aspect of Lyell's programme before discovering natural selection, and their defence, at this time of natural laws (...)
  46. De Epistemologie Van Gaston Bachelard.W. N. A. Klever - 1979 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 41 (1):3 - 34.
    Outside France the epistemology of G. Bachelard is unknown ; in France his influence is considerable, especially on philosophers like L. Althusser, M. Foucault, G. Canguilhem, J. Hyppolite, M. Serres, G. G. Granger, D. Lecourt and many others. Bachelard occupies a strategic point on the crossroads of all theoretical debates concerning science. The fact that he seems to give satisfactory answers on the problems which have risen after the breakdown of the logical-positivistic philosophy of science, justifies an exposition and evaluation (...)
  47. Popper's Metaphysical Research Program for the Human Sciences.Noretta Koertge - 1975 - Inquiry 18 (4):437 – 462.
    Popper has provided a model for the scientific explanation of human actions and a metaphysical theory of man which can guide scientific research. In this paper I discuss the problems of the empirical content and nomicity of the Rationality Principle and extend the method of situational analysis to the problem of explaining beliefs. The domain of applicability of the Rationality Principle is bounded on one side by cases in which behavior is determined by processes which can not be influenced by (...)
  48. Notes on Lakatos.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1970 - PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1970:137 - 146.
  49. Some Problems Concerning Rational Reconstruction: Comments on Elkana and Lakatos.Tomas Kulka - 1977 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 28 (4):325-344.
  50. Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.Lakatos Imre - 1970 - In Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge. Cambridge University Press. pp. 91-195.
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