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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

Matthew Sample
Ankeny and Leonelli (2016) propose "repertoires" as a new way to understand the stability of certain research programs as well as scientific change in general. By bringing a more complete range of social, material, and epistemic elements into one framework, they position their work as a correction to the Kuhnian impulse in philosophy of science and other areas of science studies. I argue that this "post-Kuhnian" move is not complete, and that repertoires maintain an internalist perspective. Comparison with an alternative framework, the "sociotechnical imaginaries" of Jasanoff and Kim (2015), illustrates precisely which elements of practice are externalized by Ankeny and Leonelli...
February 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Massimiliano Simons
The work of Thomas Kuhn has been very influential in Anglo-American philosophy of science and it is claimed that it has initiated the historical turn. Although this might be the case for English speaking countries, in France an historical approach has always been the rule. This article aims to investigate the similarities and differences between Kuhn and French philosophy of science or 'French epistemology'. The first part will argue that he is influenced by French epistemologists, but by lesser known authors than often thought...
February 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Finnur Dellsén
As it is standardly conceived, Inference to the Best Explanation (IBE) is a form of ampliative inference in which one infers a hypothesis because it provides a better potential explanation of one's evidence than any other available, competing explanatory hypothesis. Bas van Fraassen famously objected to IBE thus formulated that we may have no reason to think that any of the available, competing explanatory hypotheses are true. While revisionary responses to the Bad Lot Objection concede that IBE needs to be reformulated in light of this problem, reactionary responses argue that the Bad Lot Objection is fallacious, incoherent, or misguided...
February 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Yael Kedar, Giora Hon
Contemporary scholars set the Greek conception of an immanent natural order in opposition to the seventeenth century mechanistic conception of extrinsic laws imposed upon nature from without. By contrast, we argue that in the process of making the concept of law of nature, forms and laws were coherently used in theories of natural causation. We submit that such a combination can be found in the thirteenth century. The heroes of our claim are Robert Grosseteste who turned the idea of corporeal form into the common feature of matter, and Roger Bacon who described the effects of that common feature...
February 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Sander Verhaegh
Quine is routinely perceived as having changed his mind about the scope of the Duhem-Quine thesis, shifting from what has been called an 'extreme holism' to a more moderate view. Where the Quine of 'Two Dogmas of Empiricism' argues that "the unit of empirical significance is the whole of science" (1951, 42), the later Quine seems to back away from this "needlessly strong statement of holism" (1991, 393). In this paper, I show that the received view is incorrect. I distinguish three ways in which Quine's early holism can be said to be wide-scoped and show that he has never changed his mind about any one of these aspects of his early view...
February 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Matthew H Slater
Many astronomers seem to believe that we have discovered that Pluto is not a planet. I contest this assessment. Recent discoveries of trans-Neptunian Pluto-sized objects do not militate for Pluto's expulsion from the planets unless we have prior reason for not simply counting these newly-discovered objects among the planets. I argue that this classificatory controversy - which I compare to the controversy about the classification of the platypus - illustrates how our classificatory practices are laden with normative commitments of a distinctive kind...
February 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Peter R Anstey
Like many virtuosi in his day, the English philosopher John Locke maintained an active interest in metrology. Yet for Locke, this was no mere hobby: questions concerning measurement were also implicated in his ongoing philosophical project to develop an account of human understanding. This paper follows Locke's treatment of four problems of measurement from the early Drafts A and B of the Essay concerning Human Understanding to the publication of this famous book and its aftermath. It traces Locke's attempt to develop a natural or universal standard for the measure of length, his attempts to grapple with the measurement of duration, as well as the problems of determining comparative measures for secondary qualities, and the problem of discriminating small differences in the conventional measures of his day...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Andrea Sangiacomo
Although several of Descartes's disciples established occasionalism as the natural outcome of Cartesianism, Pierre-Sylvain Régis forcefully resisted this conclusion by developing an account of secondary causes in which God does not immediately intervene in the natural world. In order to understand this view, it has been argued that Régis melds Aquinas's concurrentism with the new, mechanist natural philosophy defended in Cartesian physics. In this paper, I contend that such a reading of Régis's position is misleading for our understanding of both his account of secondary causality and the relationship between medieval debates and seventeenth century natural philosophy...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Felipe Romero
Advocates of the self-corrective thesis argue that scientific method will refute false theories and find closer approximations to the truth in the long run. I discuss a contemporary interpretation of this thesis in terms of frequentist statistics in the context of the behavioral sciences. First, I identify experimental replications and systematic aggregation of evidence (meta-analysis) as the self-corrective mechanism. Then, I present a computer simulation study of scientific communities that implement this mechanism to argue that frequentist statistics may converge upon a correct estimate or not depending on the social structure of the community that uses it...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Raphaël Sandoz
Despite deserving a place amongst the historic milestones of the philosophy of disciplines, the system of the sciences put forward by Whewell has so far received little interest. Yet his ideas had a significant impact on the researches subsequently carried out on the topic, exerting in particular a decisive influence on Peirce and Spencer. The present paper aims to display the innovatory nature of the philosophical foundations of the Whewellian classification of the sciences. In this respect, we will argue that the most striking feature of his disciplinary system lies in a heuristic categorization of the sciences according to their "methods of discovery"...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Gregory Brown
In this paper I ague against John Henry's claim that Newton embraced unmediated action at a distance as an explanation of gravity (Henry, 1994, 1999, 2011, 2014). In particular, I take issue with his apparent suggestion that the fact, as he sees it, that two of Newton's prominent followers, namely, Richard Bentley and Samuel Clarke, embraced unmediated action at a distance as an explanation of gravity provides significant supporting evidence that Newton did as well (see Henry, 1994 and 1999). Instead, I argue that while Bentley did ultimately defend the notion of unmediated action at a distance as an explanation of gravity, Newton himself accepted that notion neither in his correspondence with Bentley, as Henry has maintained, nor in any of his later works...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Laurent Loison
Since the late 1980s, presentism has seen a resurgence among some historians of science. Most of them draw a line between a good form of presentism and typical anachronism, but where the line should be drawn remains an open question. The present article aims at resolving this problem. In the first part I define the four main distinct forms of presentism at work in the history of science and the different purposes they serve. Based on this typology, the second part reconsiders what counts as anachronism, Whiggism and positivist history...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Rachel A Ankeny, Sabina Leonelli
We propose a framework to describe, analyze, and explain the conditions under which scientific communities organize themselves to do research, particularly within large-scale, multidisciplinary projects. The framework centers on the notion of a research repertoire, which encompasses well-aligned assemblages of the skills, behaviors, and material, social, and epistemic components that a group may use to practice certain kinds of science, and whose enactment affects the methods and results of research. This account provides an alternative to the idea of Kuhnian paradigms for understanding scientific change in the following ways: (1) it does not frame change as primarily generated and shaped by theoretical developments, but rather takes account of administrative, material, technological, and institutional innovations that contribute to change and explicitly questions whether and how such innovations accompany, underpin, and/or undercut theoretical shifts; (2) it thus allows for tracking of the organization, continuity, and coherence in research practices which Kuhn characterized as 'normal science' without relying on the occurrence of paradigmatic shifts and revolutions to be able to identify relevant components; and (3) it requires particular attention be paid to the performative aspects of science, whose study Kuhn pioneered but which he did not extensively conceptualize...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Guillaume Rochefort-Maranda
In this paper, I compare theory-laden perceptions with imputed data sets. The similarities between the two allow me to show how the phenomenon of theory-ladenness can manifest itself in statistical analyses. More importantly, elucidating the differences between them will allow me to broaden the focus of the existing literature on theory-ladenness and to introduce some much-needed nuances. The topic of statistical imputation has received no attention in philosophy of science. Yet, imputed data sets are very similar to theory-laden perceptions, and they are now an integral part of many scientific inferences...
December 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Timothy D Lyons
In this paper I challenge and adjudicate between the two positions that have come to prominence in the scientific realism debate: deployment realism and structural realism. I discuss a set of cases from the history of celestial mechanics, including some of the most important successes in the history of science. To the surprise of the deployment realist, these are novel predictive successes toward which theoretical constituents that are now seen to be patently false were genuinely deployed. Exploring the implications for structural realism, I show that the need to accommodate these cases forces our notion of "structure" toward a dramatic depletion of logical content, threatening to render it explanatorily vacuous: the better structuralism fares against these historical examples, in terms of retention, the worse it fares in content and explanatory strength...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Kerry McKenzie
The view that the fundamental kind properties are intrinsic properties enjoys reflexive endorsement by most metaphysicians of science. But ontic structural realists deny that there are any fundamental intrinsic properties at all. Given that structuralists distrust intuition as a guide to truth, and given that we currently lack a fundamental physical theory that we could consult instead to order settle the issue, it might seem as if there is simply nowhere for this debate to go at present. However, I will argue that there exists an as-yet untapped resource for arguing for ontic structuralism - namely, the way that fundamentality is conceptualized in our most fundamental physical frameworks...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
David Glick
In this paper I elicit a prediction from structural realism and compare it, not to a historical case, but to a contemporary scientific theory. If structural realism is correct, then we should expect physics to develop theories that fail to provide an ontology of the sort sought by traditional realists. If structure alone is responsible for instrumental success, we should expect surplus ontology to be eliminated. Quantum field theory (QFT) provides the framework for some of the best confirmed theories in science, but debates over its ontology are vexed...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Larry Laudan, Rachel Laudan
A basic premise of hyphenated history-and-philosophy-of-science is that theories of scientific change have to be based on empirical evidence derived from carefully constructed historical case studies. This paper analyses one such systematic attempt to test philosophical claims, describing its historical context, rationale, execution, and limited impact.
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Chris Haufe
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Ansten Klev
Unified science is a recurring theme in Carnap's work from the time of the Aufbau until the end of the 1930's. The theme is not constant, but knows several variations. I shall extract three quite precise formulations of the thesis of unified science from Carnap's work during this period: from the Aufbau, from Carnap's so-called syntactic period, and from Testability and Meaning and related papers. My main objective is to explain these formulations and to discuss their relation, both to each other and to other aspects of Carnap's work...
October 2016: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
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