According to the antirealist argument known as the pessimistic induction, the history of science is a graveyard of dead scientific theories and abandoned theoretical posits. Support for this pessimistic picture of the history of science usually comes from a few case histories, such as the demise of the phlogiston theory and the abandonment of caloric as the substance of heat. In this article, I wish to take a new approach to examining the ‘history of (...) class='Hi'>science as a graveyard of theories’ picture. Using JSTOR Data for Research and Springer Exemplar, I present new lines of evidence that are at odds with this pessimistic picture of the history of science. When rigorously tested against the historical record of science, I submit, the pessimistic picture of the history of science as a graveyard of dead theories and abandoned posits may turn out to be no more than a philosophers’ myth. (shrink)
Science lessons using inquiry only or history of science with inquiry were used for explicit reflective nature of science instruction for second-, third-, and fourth-grade students randomly assigned to receive one of the treatments. Students in both groups improved in their understanding of creative NOS, tentative NOS, empirical NOS, and subjective NOS as measured using VNOS-D as pre- and post-test surveys. Social and cultural context of science was not accessible for the students. Students in second, (...) third, and fourth grades were able to attain adequate views of empirical NOS, the role of observation and inference, creative and imaginative NOS, and subjective NOS. Students were not able to express adequate views of socially and culturally embedded NOS. Most gains in NOS eroded by the next school year, except for tentative NOS for both groups and creative NOS for the inquiry group. (shrink)
In “Conceptual Differences Between Children and Adults,” Susan Carey discusses phlogiston theory in order to defend the view that there can be non-translatability between scientific languages. I present an objection to her defence.
We describe here an interdisciplinary lab science course for non-majors using the history of science as a curricular guide. Our experience with diverse instructors underscores the importance of the teachers and classroom dynamics, beyond the curriculum. Moreover, the institutional political context is central: are courses for non-majors valued and is support given to instructors to innovate? Two sample projects are profiled.
Within the debate on the inevitability versus contingency of science for which Hacking’s writings have provided the basic terminology, the devising of counterfactual histories of science is widely assumed by champions of the contingency thesis to be an effective way to challenge the inevitability thesis. However, relatively little attention has been devoted to the problem of how to defend counterfactual history of science against the criticism that it is too speculative an endeavor to be worth bothering (...) with—the same critique traditionally levelled against the use of counterfactuals in general history. In this paper, we review the defense of counterfactuals put forward by their advocates within general history. According to such defense—which emphasizes the essential role of counterfactuals within explanations—good counterfactual scenarios need to exhibit the right kind of plausibility, characterized as continuity between said scenarios and what historians know about the world. As our discussion shows, the same requirement needs to be satisfied by good counterfactual histories of science. However, as we mention in the concluding part of the paper, there is at least one concern raised by counterfactual history of science as used to support the contingency thesis for which the defense based on the plausibility of the counterfactual scenarios does not seem to offer easy solutions. (shrink)
The history of science can be approached in several different ways. It may be studied, as in the classification once favoured in the long-established Department of History and Philosophy of Science at University College London, by considering separately the history of individual sciences: physics, chemistry, biology, etc.—Partington's monumental History of chemistry is a good example of the cross-section of history of science obtained by considering a single discipline. This approach is understandable when (...)history of science is the work of retired specialists in a particular science. On the other hand, many of those who have approached the history of science from a training in general history have tended to favour a study of a particular period as an alternative to an orientation by subject. This is particularly valuable before the nineteenth century, when subject boundaries were not so tightly drawn as some of the old science historians tended to assume. A third possibility is area studies, usually the history of science within a particular country. Sometimes this is done unconsciously, as when historians claim that they are dealing with a general theme, such as science and religion or scientific institutions, but do so with special reference to their own country. French historians of ‘the Enlightenment’ often study French authors exclusively. Language as much as country is a limiting factor here. (shrink)
Before 1950, history of science did not exist as an independent academic branch, but was instead pursued by practitioners across various humanities and scientific disciplines. After professionalization, traces of its prehistory as a cross-disciplinary area of interest bound to an interdisciplinary, educational philosophy have remained. This essay outlines the development of history of science as an interdisciplinary academic field, and argues that it constitutes an obvious choice for inclusion in an interdisciplinary academic program, provided faculty and (...) administrators learn how best to manage its advantages and pitfalls. (shrink)
The use of the material theory of induction to vindicate a scientist's claims of evidential warrant is illustrated with the cases of Einstein's thermodynamic argument for light quanta of 1905 and his recovery of the anomalous motion of Mercury from general relativity in 1915. In a survey of other accounts of inductive inference applied to these examples, I show that, if it is to succeed, each account must presume the same material facts as the material theory and, in addition, some (...) general principle of inductive inference not invoked by the material theory. Hence these principles are superfluous and the material theory superior in being more parsimonious. (shrink)
Wolf's study represents an incredible work of scholarship. A full and detailed account of three centuries of innovation, these two volumes provide a complete portrait of the foundations of modern science and philosophy. Tracing the origins and development of the achievements of the modern age, it is the story of the birth and growth of the modern mind. A thoroughly comprehensive sourcebook, it deals with all the important developments in science and many of the innovations in the social (...) sciences, British and Continental philosophy and psychology. Wolf's exposition is clear and accessible. As well as its comprehensive treatment of the practical innovations, it includes a wealth of biographical information to give a human aspect to the extensive canvas. A mine of useful information that will be repeatedly used for reference, it is also lavishishly illustrated throughout. These two volumes, published together for the first time, present in one invaluable source the history, methods and principles that form the foundations of science and philosophy. --covers both the major and minor figures in the history of science and philosophy --accessible to the general reader --provides all necessary information on the period immediately before and after the dates covered --both volumes are fully indexed --lavishly illustrated with over 660 portraits, diagrams of scientific apparatus and instruments, frontispieces, B&W photographs Abraham Wolf (1877-1948) other works include: The Oldest Biography of Spinoza (1927), The Philosophy of Nietzsche (1915). (shrink)
The increased popularity of the label "cultural" within science studies, especially in relation to "cultural studies, " invites consideration of how it is and can be used in historical work. A lot more seems now to be invested in the notion of "cultural history. " This article examines some recent historiography of science as a means of considering what counts as cultural history in that domain and attempts to coordinate it with the sociologically informed studies of (...) the past ten orfifteen years. The label "sociocultural" seems a more useful term by which to capture recent developments. (shrink)
Introduces a series of articles which deals with the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science.; Introduces a series of articles which deals with the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science.
I am proposing here an examination o f the text Reading Capital, written by Louis Althusser in 1965. I will consider it as a text in the history o f philosophy. In Reading Capital Althusser explicitly asks which philosophy provides the basis, the foundation, for Marx’s scientific work? In this sense, Reading Capital is, at the same time, a text in the history o f philosophy and a text in the philosophy o f science. In research on (...) Marx’s philosophy, it becomes essential in the Althusserian argument to consider Marx’s historical position in relation to the school o f classical economy, on the one hand, and to Hegel’s philosophy, on the other. In other words, it is a matter of determining Marx ’s p o sitio n in a history of science and in a history of philosophy. (shrink)
This essay introduces a Focus section on “Neurohistory and History of Science” by distinguishing images of the brain as governor and as transducer: the former treat the brain as the executive control center of the body, the latter as an interface between the organism and reality at large. Most of the consternation expressed in the symposium about the advent of neurohistory derives from the brain-as-governor conception, which is rooted in a “biologistic” understanding of humanity that in recent years (...) has become bound up in various nefarious “neoliberal” political and economic agendas. However, given the sophisticated attitude that neurohistory’s leading champion, Daniel Smail, displays toward evolutionary theory’s potential impact on historical practice, he is perhaps better understood as part of the brain-as-transducer tradition. This tradition, largely suppressed in current representations of neuroscience, has a strong theological provenance, ultimately concerned with our becoming attuned to the divine frequency, not least by extending the powers of the human nervous system through technology. This essay sympathetically explores the implications of this perspective for historical practice. (shrink)
The claim that Galileo Galilei transformed the spyglass into an astronomical instrument has never been disputed and is considered a historical fact. However, the question what was the procedure which Galileo followed is moot, for he did not disclose his research method. On the traditional view, Galileo was guided by experience, more precisely, systematized experience, which was current among northern Italian artisans and men of science. In other words, it was a trial-and-error procedure—no theory was involved. A scientific analysis (...) of the optical properties of Galileo’s first improved spyglass shows that his procedure could not have been an informed extension of the traditional optics of spectacles. We argue that most likely Galileo realized that the objective and the eyepiece form a system and proceeded accordingly. (shrink)
Historian Richard Hofstadter’s observations about American cold-war politics are used to contextualize Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and argue that substantive claims about the nature of scientific knowledge and scientific change found in Structure were adopted from this cold-war political culture.
Alexandre Koyré was one of the most prominent historians of science of the twentieth century. The standard interpretation of Koyré is that he falls squarely within the internalist camp of historians of science—that he focuses on the history of the ideas themselves, eschewing cultural and sociological interpretations regarding the influence of ideologies and institutions on the development of science. When we read what Koyré has to say about his historical studies , we find him embracing and (...) championing this Platonic view of his work. Ultimately I think this interpretation of Koyré's history of science is lopsided and in need of correction. I claim, rather, that a careful reading of Koyré's work suggests that a tension exists between internal and external methodological considerations. The external considerations stem from Koyré's commitment to the unity of human thought and the influence he admits that the ‘transscientifiques’ have on the development of science. I suggest in conclusion then, that if we are to put a philosophical label on his work, rather than ‘Platonist’, as has been the custom, ‘Hegelian’ makes a better fit. (shrink)
The mismatch between common representations of “science” and the miscellany of materials typically studied by the historian of science is traced to a systematic ambiguity that may itself be traced to early modern Europe. In that cultural setting, natural philosophy came to be rearticulated as involving both contemplative and practical knowledge. The resulting tension and ambiguity are illustrated by the eighteenth‐century views of Buffon. In the nineteenth century, a new enterprise called “science” represents the establishment of an (...) unstable ideology of natural knowledge that was heavily indebted to those early modern developments. The two complementary and competing elements of the ideology of modern science are accordingly described as “natural philosophy” and “instrumentality” . The history of science in large part concerns the story of their shifting, often mutually denying, interrelations. (shrink)
The purpose of this article is to respond to Thomas Uebel’s criticisms of my comments regarding the current revisionism of Carnap’s work and its relations to Kuhn. I begin by pointing out some misunderstandings in the interpretation of my article. I then discuss some aspects related to Carnap’s view of the history of science. First, I emphasize that it was not due to a supposed affinity between Kuhn’s conceptions and those of logical positivists that Kuhn was invited to (...) write the monograph on the history of science for the Encyclopedia. Three other authors had been invited first, including George Sarton whose conception was entirely different from Kuhn’s. In addition, I try to show that Carnap attributes little importance to the history of science. He seldom refers to it and, when he does, he clearly defends a Whig or an ‘old’ historiography of science, to which Kuhn opposes his “new historiography of science”. It is argued that this raises serious difficulties for those, like Uebel, who hold the view that Carnap includes the historical or the social within the rational. (shrink)
The use of the material theory of induction to vindicate a scientist’s claims of evidential warrant is illustrated with the cases of Einstein’s thermodynamic argument for light quanta of 1905 and his recovery of the anomalous motion of Mercury from general relativity in 1915. In a survey of other accounts of inductive inference applied to these examples, I show that, if it is to succeed, each account must presume the same material facts as the material theory and, in addition, some (...) general principle of inductive inference not invoked by the material theory. Hence these principles are superfluous and the material theory superior in being more parsimonious. (shrink)
This article looks into mining in central Germany in the late eighteenth century as one area of highly charged exchange between science and the state. It describes bureaucratic knowledge as socially distributed cognition by following the steps of a high-ranking official that led him to discover a rich silver ore deposit. Although this involved hybridization of practical/artisanal and theoretical/scientific knowledge, and knowers, the focus of this article is on purification or boundary work that took place when actors in and (...) around the mines consciously contributed to different circuits of knowledge production. For the sake of analysis, the article suggests a way of opposing bureaucratic versus scientific knowledge production, even when the sites, actors involved in, and practices of that knowledge production were the same or similar. Whereas the science of the time invoked consensus among equals to conflate competing knowledge claims, bureaucracies did so by applying a hierarchy among ranked individuals. (shrink)
Computational methods and perspectives can transform the history of science by enabling the pursuit of novel types of questions, dramatically expanding the scale of analysis , and offering novel forms of publication that greatly enhance access and transparency. This essay presents a brief summary of a computational research system for the history of science, discussing its implications for research, education, and publication practices and its connections to the open-access movement and similar transformations in the natural and (...) social sciences that emphasize big data. It also argues that computational approaches help to reconnect the history of science to individual scientific disciplines. (shrink)
History of science has developed into a methodologically diverse discipline, adding greatly to our understanding of the interplay between science, society, and culture. Along the way, one original impetus for the then newly emerging discipline—what George Sarton called the perspective “from the point of view of the scientist”—dropped out of fashion. This essay shows, by means of several examples, that reclaiming this interaction between science and history of science yields interesting perspectives and new insights (...) for both science and history of science. The authors consequently suggest that historians of science also adopt this perspective as part of their methodological repertoire. (shrink)
History of science and philosophy of science are not logically related: to claim that they are would be either to underestimate or to misunderstand the genetic fallacy. But one risk of inferring that there is no connection at all between the two is the risk that philosophers of science may not know what they are talking about. The philosopher of science who does not know intimately the history of the scientific problem with which he (...) is exercised may be discussing no genuine state of affairs. On the other hand, The historian and philosopher of science are both concerned with the structure of scientific ideas, And these concerns are fused into one when the scientific "argumentation" of the past is the issue. (staff). (shrink)