Synthese 197 (5):2111-2141 (2020)

Authors
Luca Tambolo
University of Trieste (PhD)
Abstract
This paper has a twofold purpose. First, it aims at highlighting one difference in how counterfactuals work in general history, on the one hand, and in history of the natural sciences, on the other hand. As we show, both in general history and in history of science good counterfactual narratives need to be plausible, where plausibility is construed as appropriate continuity of both the antecedent and the consequent of the counterfactual with what we know about the world. However, in general history it is often possible to imagine a consequent dramatically different from the actual historical development, and yet plausible; in history of science, due to plausibility concerns, imagining a consequent far removed from the results of actual science seems more complicated. The second aim of the paper is to assess whether and to what degree counterfactual histories of science can advance the cause of the so-called “contingency thesis,” namely, the claim that history of science might have followed a path leading to alternative, non-equivalent theories, as successful as the ones that we currently embrace. We distinguish various versions of the contingency thesis and argue that counterfactual histories of science support weak versions of the thesis.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-018-1787-7
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 60,949
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Social Construction of What?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Harvard University Press.
A Confutation of Convergent Realism.Larry Laudan - 1981 - Philosophy of Science 48 (1):19-49.
Is Water H2O? Evidence, Realism and Pluralism.Hasok Chang - 2012 - Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science.
Scientific Perspectivism.Ronald N. Giere - 2006 - University of Chicago Press.

View all 83 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Scientific Realism And The Inevitability Of Science.Howard Sankey - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 39 (2):259-264.
State of the Field: Are the Results of Science Contingent or Inevitable?Katherina Kinzel - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 52:55-66.
Other Histories, Other Sciences.Kidd Ian James - 2017 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 61:57-60.
If Counterfactuals Were Excluded From Historical Reasoning..Yemima Ben-Menahem - 2016 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 10 (3):370-381.
Inevitability, Contingency, and Epistemic Humility.Ian James Kidd - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 55:12-19.
The Topography of Historical Contingency.Rob Inkpen & Derek Turner - 2012 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 6 (1):1-19.
Counterfactuals and History: Contingency and Convergence in Histories of Science and Life.Ian Hesketh - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 58:41-48.
Counterfactuals, Causes and Contingency in the History of Science.Katherina Kinzel - 2016 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 60:92-96.
Historiographic Counterfactuals and the Philosophy of Historiography.Aviezer Tucker - 2016 - Journal of the Philosophy of History 10 (3):333-348.
III. Counterfactuals and the New Economic History.Stanley L. Engerman - 1980 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 23 (2):157 – 172.
Contingency and History.Kim Sterelny - 2016 - Philosophy of Science 83 (4):521-539.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2018-04-20

Total views
133 ( #77,499 of 2,439,388 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
3 ( #209,317 of 2,439,388 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes