Erkenntnis 75 (3):377-390 (2011)

Abstract
The historical variation of scientific knowledge has lent itself to the development of historical epistemology, which attempts to historicize the origin and establishment of knowledge claims. The questions I address in this paper revolve around the historicity of the objects of those claims: How and why do new scientific objects appear? What exactly comes into being in such cases? Do scientific objects evolve over time and in what ways? I put forward and defend two theses: First, the ontology of science is so rich and variegated that there are no universally valid answers to these questions. Second, we need a pluralist account of scientific objects, a pluralist metaphysics that can do justice to their rich diversity and their various modes of being and becoming. I then focus on hidden objects, which are supposed to be part of the permanent furniture of the universe, and I discuss their birth and historicity: They emerge when various phenomena coalesce as manifestations of a single hidden cause and their representations change over time. Finally, I examine the conditions under which an evolving representation may still refer to the same object and I illustrate my argument drawing upon the early history of electrons.
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DOI 10.1007/s10670-011-9344-5
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Scientific Perspectivism.Ronald N. Giere - 2006 - University of Chicago Press.
Pandora’s Hope.Bruno Latour - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
Historical Ontology.Ian Hacking - 2002 - Harvard University Press.

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