About this topic
Summary The question of the nature of scientific progress arises from reflection on the nature of scientific change.  Change in science is not typically mere change nor is it typically a change of fashion.  Scientific change leads to scientific progress.  But how is progress to be conceived?  Some have thought of scientific progress in terms of advance on truth or the cumulative build-up of truth.  Others have been inclined to think of progress in terms of the growth of knowledge.  Still others have thought of progress in a way that does not require growth of knowledge or truth, so much as improved problem-solving capacity or efficacity.
Key works Concerns about the cumulative model of scientific progress may be found in Kuhn 1962, or in later editions, e.g. Kuhn 1962Laudan 1977 is a sustained discussion of the topic which proposes a problem-solving model of progress.  For a good introduction to Popper's views about science and scientific progress, see Popper 1962.  A recent proposal which understands scientific progress in terms of the accumulation of knowledge is found in Bird 2007
Introductions Niiniluoto 2008
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  1. added 2020-05-16
    Doing Integrated History and Philosophy of Science: A Case Study of the Origin of Genetics.Yafeng Shan - 2020 - Cham: Springer.
    This book offers an integrated historical and philosophical examination of the origin of genetics. The author contends that an integrated HPS analysis helps us to have a better understanding of the history of genetics, and sheds light on some general issues in the philosophy of science. This book consists of three parts. It begins with historical problems, revisiting the significance of the work of Mendel, de Vries, and Weldon. Then it turns to integrated HPS problems, developing an exemplar-based analysis of (...)
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  2. added 2020-04-17
    Über Tatsachen. An die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern.Geert Keil - 2019 - Forschung and Lehre:894-897.
    * Einige Gemeinplätze über Tatsachen und Wissenschaft * Postfaktische Kommunikation und »alternative Fakten« * Ist nur Unumstößliches Tatsache? * Woran starb Ramses II.? * Ist der naive Realismus nicht seit Kant überwunden?
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  3. added 2020-03-01
    Troubles with Theoretical Virtues: Resisting Theoretical Utility Arguments in Metaphysics.OtÁvio Bueno & Scott A. Shalkowski - forthcoming - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.
  4. added 2020-02-23
    The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
  5. added 2020-02-17
    Model-Groups as Scientific Research Programmes.Cristin Chall - 2020 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10 (1):1-24.
    Lakatos’s methodology of scientific research programmes centres around series of theories, with little regard to the role of models in theory construction. Modifying it to incorporate model-groups, clusters of developmental models that are intended to become new theories, provides a description of the model dynamics within the search for physics beyond the standard model. At the moment, there is no evidence for BSM physics, despite a concerted search effort especially focused around the standard model account of electroweak symmetry breaking. Using (...)
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  6. added 2020-02-11
    The Advancement of Science, and Its Burdens. Gerald Holton. [REVIEW]George Gale - 1989 - Philosophy of Science 56 (3):536-537.
  7. added 2020-02-10
    Expanding Theory Testing in General Relativity: LIGO and Parametrized Theories.Lydia Patton - forthcoming - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B: Studies in History and Philosophy of Modern Physics.
    The multiple detections of gravitational waves by LIGO (the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory), operated by Caltech and MIT, have been acclaimed as confirming Einstein's prediction, a century ago, that gravitational waves propagating as ripples in spacetime would be detected. Yunes and Pretorius (2009) investigate whether LIGO's template-based searches encode fundamental assumptions, especially the assumption that the background theory of general relativity is an accurate description of the phenomena detected in the search. They construct the parametrized post-Einsteinian (ppE) framework in response, (...)
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  8. added 2020-02-09
    Aristotle's Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science, by Edward Feser. [REVIEW]Monte Johnson - 2020 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2020 (01.02).
  9. added 2020-01-05
    Is There a Place for Epistemic Virtues in Theory Choice?Milena Ivanova - 2014 - In Abrol Fairweather (ed.), Virtue Epistemology Naturalized. Springer, Cham. pp. 207-226.
    This paper challenges the appeal to theory virtues in theory choice as well as the appeal to the intellectual and moral virtues of an agent as determining unique choices between empirically equivalent theories. After arguing that theoretical virtues do not determine the choice of one theory at the expense of another theory, I argue that nor does the appeal to intellectual and moral virtues single out one agent, who defends a particular theory, and exclude another agent defending an alternative theory. (...)
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  10. added 2019-12-21
    A Compatibility Law and the Classification of Theory Change.Patrick Fraser & Ameer Sarwar - 2018 - Scientonomy: Journal for the Science of Science 2:67-82.
    The current formulation of the zeroth law (the law of compatibility) is marred with a number of theoretical problems, which necessitate its reformulation. In this paper, we propose that compatibility is an independent stance that can be taken towards epistemic elements of all types. We then provide a new definition of compatibility criteria to reflect this change. We show that the content of the zeroth law is deducible from our definition of compatibility. Instead of a static law of compatibility, we (...)
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  11. added 2019-12-20
    How Intellectual Communities Progress.Lewis D. Ross - forthcoming - Episteme.
    Recent work takes both philosophical and scientific progress to consist in acquiring factive epistemic states such as knowledge. However, much of this work leaves unclear what entity is the subject of these epistemic state. Furthermore, by focusing only on states like knowledge, we overlook progress in intermediate cases between ignorance and knowledge—for example, many now celebrated theories were initially so controversial that they were not known. This paper develops an improved framework for thinking about intellectual progress. Firstly, I argue that (...)
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  12. added 2019-10-23
    A Hybrid Account of Scientific Progress: Finding Middle Ground Between the Epistemic and the Noetic Accounts.Clara Goebel - 2019 - Kriterion - Journal of Philosophy 33 (3):1-16.
    Whereas the progressive nature of science is widely recognised, specifying the standards of scientific progress has been subject to philosophical debate since the enlightenment. Recently, Ilkka Niiniluoto, Alexander Bird, and Finnur Dellsén have revived this debate by setting forward a semantic, epistemic and noetic account of scientific progress respectively. I argue that none of these accounts is satisfactory. The semantic and epistemic accounts might advance necessary conditions for scientific progress, namely an accumulation of true, justified, and non-Gettiered beliefs, but fail (...)
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  13. added 2019-09-19
    New Water in Old Buckets: Hypothetical and Counterfactual Reasoning in Mach’s Economy of Science.Lydia Patton - 2019 - In Friedrich Stadler (ed.), Ernst Mach – Life, Work, Influence. Springer Verlag.
    Ernst Mach’s defense of relativist theories of motion in Die Mechanik involves a well-known criticism of Newton’s theory appealing to absolute space, and of Newton’s “bucket” experiment. Sympathetic readers (Norton 1995) and critics (Stein 1967, 1977) agree that there’s a tension in Mach’s view: he allows for some constructed scientific concepts, but not others, and some kinds of reasoning about unobserved phenomena, but not others. Following Banks (2003), I argue that this tension can be interpreted as a constructive one, springing (...)
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  14. added 2019-09-14
    Epistemic Diversity and Editor Decisions: A Statistical Matthew Effect.Remco Heesen & Jan-Willem Romeijn - 2019 - Philosophers' Imprint 19.
    This paper offers a new angle on the common idea that the process of science does not support epistemic diversity. Under minimal assumptions on the nature of journal editing, we prove that editorial procedures, even when impartial in themselves, disadvantage less prominent research programs. This purely statistical bias in article selection further skews existing differences in the success rate and hence attractiveness of research programs, and exacerbates the reputation difference between the programs. After a discussion of the modeling assumptions, the (...)
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  15. added 2019-09-09
    Why Adding Truths Is Not Enough: A Reply to Mizrahi on Progress as Approximation to the Truth.Gustavo Cevolani & Luca Tambolo - 2019 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (2):129-135.
    ABSTRACTIn a recent paper in this journal, entitled ‘Scientific Progress: Why Getting Closer to Truth is Not Enough’, Moti Mizrahi argues that the view of progress as approximation to the truth or increasing verisimilitude is plainly false. The key premise of his argument is that on such a view of progress, in order to get closer to the truth one only needs to arbitrarily add a true disjunct to a hypothesis or theory. Since quite clearly scientific progress is not a (...)
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  16. added 2019-07-21
    A New Task for Philosophy of Science.Nicholas Maxwell - 2019 - Metaphilosophy 50 (3):316-338.
    This paper argues that philosophers of science have before them an important new task that they urgently need to take up. It is to convince the scientific community to adopt and implement a new philosophy of science that does better justice to the deeply problematic basic intellectual aims of science than that which we have at present. Problematic aims evolve with evolving knowledge, that part of philosophy of science concerned with aims and methods thus becoming an integral part of science (...)
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  17. added 2019-07-08
    The Technological Fix as Social Cure-All: Origins and Implications.Sean F. Johnston - 2018 - IEEE Technology and Society 37 (1):47-54.
    On the historical origins of technological fixes and their wider social and political implications.
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  18. added 2019-07-08
    Why Display? Representing Holograms in Museum Collections.Sean F. Johnston - 2009 - In Peter Morris & Klaus Staubermann (eds.), Illuminating Instruments. Washington, DC, USA: pp. 97-116.
    The actual and potential uses of holograms in museum displays, and the philosophy of knowledge and progress that they represent. Magazine journalists, museum curators, and historians sometimes face similar challenges in making topics or technologies relevant to wider audiences. To varying degrees, they must justify the significance of their subjects of study by identifying a newsworthy slant, a pedagogical role, or an analytical purpose. This chasse au trésor may skew historical story telling itself. In science and technology studies, the problem (...)
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  19. added 2019-07-08
    Attributing Scientific and Technological Progress: The Case of Holography.Sean F. Johnston - 2005 - History and Technology 21:367-392.
    Holography, the three-dimensional imaging technology, was portrayed widely as a paradigm of progress during its decade of explosive expansion 1964–73, and during its subsequent consolidation for commercial and artistic uses up to the mid 1980s. An unusually seductive and prolific subject, holography successively spawned scientific insights, putative applications and new constituencies of practitioners and consumers. Waves of forecasts, associated with different sponsors and user communities, cast holography as a field on the verge of success—but with the dimensions of success repeatedly (...)
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  20. added 2019-07-08
    From White Elephant to Nobel Prize: Dennis Gabor's Wavefront Reconstruction.Sean F. Johnston - 2005 - Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences 36:35-70.
    Dennis Gabor devised a new concept for optical imaging in 1947 that went by a variety of names over the following decade: holoscopy, wavefront reconstruction, interference microscopy, diffraction microscopy and Gaboroscopy. A well-connected and creative research engineer, Gabor worked actively to publicize and exploit his concept, but the scheme failed to capture the interest of many researchers. Gabor’s theory was repeatedly deemed unintuitive and baffling; the technique was appraised by his contemporaries to be of dubious practicality and, at best, constrained (...)
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  21. added 2019-07-08
    An Unconvincing Transformation? Michelson's Interferential Spectroscopy.Sean F. Johnston - 2003 - Nuncius 18 ( 2):803-823.
    Albert Abraham Michelson (1852-1931), the American optical physicist best known for his precise determination of the velocity of light and for his experiments concerning aether drift, is less often acknowledged as the creator of new spectroscopic instrumentation and new spectroscopies. He devised a new method of light analysis relying upon his favourite instrument – a particular configuration of optical interferometer – and published investigations of spectral line separation, Doppler-broadening and simple high-resolution spectra (1887-1898). Contemporaries did not pursue his method. Michelson (...)
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  22. added 2019-07-08
    From Eye to Machine: Shifting Authority in Color Measurement.Sean F. Johnston - 2002 - In B. Saunders & J. Van Brakel (eds.), Theories, Technologies, Instrumentalities of Color: Anthropological and Historiographic Perspectives. Lanham, MD 20706, USA: University Press of America. pp. 289-306.
    Given a subject so imbued with contention and conflicting theoretical stances, it is remarkable that automated instruments ever came to replace the human eye as sensitive arbiters of color specification. Yet, dramatic shifts in assumptions and practice did occur in the first half of the twentieth century. How and why was confidence transferred from careful observers to mechanized devices when the property being measured – color – had become so closely identified with human physiology and psychology? A fertile perspective on (...)
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  23. added 2019-06-21
    A New Functional Approach to Scientific Progress.Yafeng Shan - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (4):739-758.
    This article develops and defends a new functional approach to scientific progress. I begin with a review of the problems of the traditional functional approach. Then I propose a new functional account of scientific progress, in which scientific progress is defined in terms of usefulness of problem defining and problem solving. I illustrate and defend my account by applying it to the history of genetics. Finally, I highlight the advantages of my new functional approach over the epistemic and semantic approaches (...)
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  24. added 2019-06-10
    The Instrument of Science: Scientific Anti-Realism Revitalised.Darrell P. Rowbottom - 2019 - New York: Routledge.
    Roughly, instrumentalism is the view that science is primarily, and should primarily be, an instrument for furthering our practical ends. It has fallen out of favour because historically influential variants of the view, such as logical positivism, suffered from serious defects. -/- In this book, however, Darrell P. Rowbottom develops a new form of instrumentalism, which is more sophisticated and resilient than its predecessors. This position—‘cognitive instrumentalism’—involves three core theses. First, science makes theoretical progress primarily when it furnishes us with (...)
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  25. added 2019-06-06
    Scientific Progress as Increasing Verisimilitude.Ilkka Niiniluoto - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 46:73-77.
    According to the foundationalist picture, shared by many rationalists and positivist empiricists, science makes cognitive progress by accumulating justified truths. Fallibilists, who point out that complete certainty cannot be achieved in empirical science, can still argue that even successions of false theories may progress toward the truth. This proposal was supported by Karl Popper with his notion of truthlikeness or verisimilitude. Popper’s own technical definition failed, but the idea that scientific progress means increasing truthlikeness can be expressed by defining degrees (...)
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  26. added 2019-06-06
    Hasok Chang Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress: Review.Donald Gillies - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (1):221-228.
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  27. added 2019-06-06
    Scientific Progress as Accumulation of Knowledge: A Reply to Rowbottom.Bird Alexander - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):279-281.
    I defend my view that scientific progress is constituted by the accumulation of knowledge against a challenge from Rowbottom in favour of the semantic view that it is only truth that is relevant to progress.Keywords: Scientific progress; Knowledge; Aim of inquiry; Darrell Rowbottom.
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  28. added 2019-06-06
    Hasok Chang, Inventing Temperature: Measurement and Scientific Progress. Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Pp. XVIII+286. Isbn 0-19-517127-6. £32.50. [REVIEW]David Knight - 2006 - British Journal for the History of Science 39 (4):599-600.
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  29. added 2019-06-06
    Fallibilism, Progress, and the Long Run in Peirce’s Philosophy of Science.Elizabeth F. Cooke - 2004 - Southwest Philosophy Review 20 (1):155-162.
  30. added 2019-06-06
    The Advancement of Science. [REVIEW]José Antonio Díez Calzada - 1994 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 9 (1):212-216.
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  31. added 2019-06-06
    Whewell's Developmental Psychologism: A Victorian Account of Scientific Progress.John F. Metcalfe - 1991 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 22 (1):117-139.
  32. added 2019-06-06
    Serendipity as a Source of Evolutionary Progress in Science.Aharon Kantorovich - 1989 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 20 (4):505.
  33. added 2019-06-06
    Scientific Progress and the Hermeneutic Circle.Dimiter Ginev - 1988 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 19 (3):391.
  34. added 2019-06-06
    The Physicists' Conception of Progress.Erhard Scheibe - 1988 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 19 (2):141.
  35. added 2019-06-06
    Gerald James Holton. The Advancement of Science, and its Burdens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986. Pp. Xi + 351. ISBN 0-521-27243-2 £9.95. [REVIEW]Lewis Pyenson - 1987 - British Journal for the History of Science 20 (4):475-477.
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  36. added 2019-06-06
    Gernot Bōhme Et Al. Finalization in Science: The Social Orientation of Scientific Progress. Edited by Wolf Schafer. Dordrecht, Boston and Lancaster: D. Reidel, 1983. [REVIEW]Paul Hoch - 1986 - British Journal for the History of Science 19 (1):116-116.
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  37. added 2019-06-06
    The Evolution of Our Understanding of the Cell: A Study in the Dynamics of Scientific Progress.William Bechtel - 1984 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 15 (4):309.
  38. added 2019-06-06
    Scientific Progress and Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.John McCumber - 1983 - Idealistic Studies 13 (1):1-10.
    A vast amount of attention has traditionally been paid to the relation of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit to the system of “science” which complements it in his thought. Recently, Errol Harris has suggested that the Phenomenology is also related to “science” as we understand it today, and this view has been worked out in some detail by Paul Thagard. The approach seems of interest for the philosophy of science because of the increasing contemporary awareness that empirical science is not based (...)
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  39. added 2019-06-06
    Truth and Scientific Progress.Jarrett Leplin - 1981 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 12 (4):269.
  40. added 2019-06-06
    Progress and Rationality in Science. By G. Radnitzky and G. Andersson. [REVIEW]Dominic J. Balestra - 1981 - Modern Schoolman 59 (1):70-72.
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  41. added 2019-06-06
    Realism and the Progress of Science.Peter James Smith - 1981 - Cambridge University Press.
    This book examines the philosophical foundations of the realist view of the progress of science as cumulative. It is a view that has recently been faced with a number of powerful attacks in which successive scientific theories are seen, not as extending their scope and honing their explanations, but as incommensurable. There is, it is held, in principle no way of establishing that they are about the same things. From the voluminous literature on the topic, Dr Smith has selected relevantly (...)
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  42. added 2019-06-06
    Observational Data and Scientific Progress.Friedrich Rapp - 1980 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 11 (2):153.
  43. added 2019-06-05
    Book Review:Is Science Progressive? Ilkka Niiniluoto.Jarrett Leplin - 1985 - Philosophy of Science 52 (4):646-648.
  44. added 2019-06-05
    Research Traditions, Incommensurability and Scientific Progress.David Pearce - 1984 - Zeitschrift Für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 15 (2):261-271.
    Summary In hisProgress and its Problems, Laudan dismisses the problem of incommensurability in science by endorsing two general assertions. The first claims there are actually no incommensurable pairs of theories or research traditions; the second maintains that his problem-solving model of scientific progress would be able rationally to appraise even incommensurable pairs of theories or traditions (are compare them for their progressiveness). I argue here that Laudan fails to provide a plausible defence of either thesis, and that this creates some (...)
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  45. added 2019-06-05
    Disagreement in Science.Andrew Lugg - 1978 - Zeitschrift Für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 9 (2):276-292.
    Summary The argument of this paper is (1) that, contrary to what is often thought, there are cases of disagreement among scientists concerning the relative acceptability of theories which do not turn on nonrational or extra-scientific considerations, (2) that agreement cannot be secured without adversely affecting the scientific enterprise as we know it, and (3) that disagreement can be accommodated within a theory of scientific rationality and progress based on the idea that the relative acceptability of scientific theories is a (...)
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  46. added 2019-06-05
    Some Attitudes to Scientific Progress: Ancient, Medieval and Early Modern.Alistair C. Crombie - 1975 - History of Science 13 (3):213-230.
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  47. added 2019-04-30
    Legend Naturalism and Scientific Progress: An Essay on Philip Kitcher's.Miriam Solomon - 1995 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 26 (2):205-218.
    Philip Kitcher's The Advancement of Science sets out, programmatically, a new naturalistic view of science as a process of building consensus practices. Detailed historical case studies—centrally, the Darwinian revolutio—are intended to support this view. I argue that Kitcher's expositions in fact support a more conservative view, that I dub ‘Legend Naturalism’. Using four historical examples which increasingly challenge Kitcher's discussions, I show that neither Legend Naturalism, nor the less conservative programmatic view, gives an adequate account of scientific progress. I argue (...)
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  48. added 2019-04-27
    Du Bois’ Democratic Defence of the Value Free Ideal.Liam Bright - 2018 - Synthese 195 (5):2227-2245.
    Philosophers of science debate the proper role of non-epistemic value judgements in scientific reasoning. Many modern authors oppose the value free ideal, claiming that we should not even try to get scientists to eliminate all such non-epistemic value judgements from their reasoning. W. E. B. Du Bois, on the other hand, has a defence of the value free ideal in science that is rooted in a conception of the proper place of science in a democracy. In particular, Du Bois argues (...)
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  49. added 2019-03-19
    Das Beste aus zwei Welten? Ludwik Fleck über den sozialen Ursprung wissenschaftlicher Kreativität.Nicola Mößner - 2013 - In Philipp Hubmann & Till Julian Huss (eds.), Simultaneität - Modelle der Gleichzeitigkeit in den Wissenschaften und Künsten. Bielefeld: transcript. pp. 111-131.
    In der heutigen schnelllebigen Welt erscheint uns der Begriff der Simultanität – der Gleichzeitigkeit – häufig eher negativ konnotiert. Er steht für das Gefühl der Überforderung im Berufs- und Alltagsleben, in welchen wir immer mehr Aufgaben in immer kürzerer Zeit erledigen, immer mehr Informationen verarbeiten, immer mehr Aufmerksamkeiten delegieren, immer mehr Aktivitäten koordinieren und in dem doch nicht länger werdenden Tagesablauf unterbringen sollen. Simultanität – in diesem umgangssprachlichen, schwachen Sinne von Gleichzeitigkeit verstanden – muss aber nicht zwangsläufig einen solch negativen (...)
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  50. added 2019-03-14
    Fundamentos Metafísicos da Ciência Moderna: Uma análise/Metaphysical Fundaments of Modern Science: An Analysis.Filicio Mulinari - 2015 - Pensando: Revista de Filosofia 6 (12):69-80.
    A visão da ciência enquanto um saber puramente objetivo e, por isso, livre de suposições metafísicas, ainda persiste na contemporaneidade, seja no âmbito ordinário do senso comum, seja nos meios científicos universitários. Sob essa perspectiva, percebe-se que há certo olhar que prevalece como uma máxima: a ciência moderna suplantou a metafísica. Noutros termos, ainda hoje se acredita que, após as descobertas da Revolução Científica, com Copérnico, Galileu, Newton, entre outros, o discurso metafísico foi extinto da ciência. Embora essa visão sobre (...)
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