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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science

Daniel Špelda
In the eighteenth century, the historiography of astronomy was part of a wider discussion concerning the history of the human spirit. The concept of the human spirit was very popular among Enlightenment authors because it gave the history of human knowledge continuity, unity and meaning. Using this concept, scientists and historians of science such as Montucla, Lalande, Bailly and Laplace could present the history of astronomy in terms of a progress towards contemporary science that was slow and could be interrupted at times, but was still constant, regular, and necessary...
June 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Sven Ove Hansson
Science denialism poses a serious threat to human health and the long-term sustainability of human civilization. Although it has recently been rather extensively discussed, this discussion has rarely been connected to the extensive literature on pseudoscience and the science-pseudoscience demarcation. This contribution argues that science denialism should be seen as one of the two major forms of pseudoscience, alongside of pseudotheory promotion. A detailed comparison is made between three prominent forms of science denialism, namely relativity theory denialism, evolution denialism, and climate science denialism...
June 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Carl F Craver, Mark Povich
In "What Makes a Scientific Explanation Distinctively Mathematical?" (2013b), Lange uses several compelling examples to argue that certain explanations for natural phenomena appeal primarily to mathematical, rather than natural, facts. In such explanations, the core explanatory facts are modally stronger than facts about causation, regularity, and other natural relations. We show that Lange's account of distinctively mathematical explanation is flawed in that it fails to account for the implicit directionality in each of his examples...
June 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Daniel Steel, Chad Gonnerman, Michael O'Rourke
This article examines the relevance of survey data of scientists' attitudes about science and values to case studies in philosophy of science. We describe two methodological challenges confronting such case studies: 1) small samples, and 2) potential for bias in selection, emphasis, and interpretation. Examples are given to illustrate that these challenges can arise for case studies in the science and values literature. We propose that these challenges can be mitigated through an approach in which case studies and survey methods are viewed as complementary, and use data from the Toolbox Dialogue Initiative to illustrate this claim...
June 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Rik Peels
A strong version of scientism, such as that of Alex Rosenberg, says, roughly, that natural science reliably delivers rational belief or knowledge, whereas common sense sources of belief, such as moral intuition, memory, and introspection, do not. In this paper I discuss ten reasons that adherents of scientism have or might put forward in defence of scientism. The aim is to show which considerations could plausibly count in favour of scientism and what this implies for the way scientism ought to be formulated...
June 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Ivan Boldyrev, Olessia Kirtchik
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
June 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Mary S Morgan
This paper investigates the important role of narrative in social science case-based research. The focus is on the use of narrative in creating a productive ordering of the materials within such cases, and on how such ordering functions in relation to 'narrative explanation'. It argues that narrative ordering based on juxtaposition - using an analogy to certain genres of visual representation - is associated with creating and resolving puzzles in the research field. Analysis of several examples shows how the use of conceptual or theoretical resources within the narrative ordering of ingredients enables the narrative explanation of the case to be resituated at other sites, demonstrating how such explanations can attain scope without implying full generality...
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
M Norton Wise
Understanding complex physical systems through the use of simulations often takes on a narrative character. That is, scientists using simulations seek an understanding of processes occurring in time by generating them from a dynamic model, thereby producing something like a historical narrative. This paper focuses on simulations of the Diels-Alder reaction, which is widely used in organic chemistry. It calls on several well-known works on historical narrative to draw out the ways in which use of these simulations mirrors aspects of narrative understanding: Gallie for "followability" and "contingency"; Mink for "synoptic judgment"; Ricoeur for "temporal dialectic"; and Hawthorn for a related dialectic of the "actual and the possible"...
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Brian Hurwitz
Modern clinical case reporting takes the form of problem-solution narratives that redescribe symptoms in terms of disease categories. Authored almost always by those who have played a part in the medical assessment of the patient, reports historicise the salient details of an individual's illness as a complex effect of identifiable antecedent causes. Candidate hypotheses linking illness to pathological mechanisms are suggested by the patient's experience, and by data that emerge from clinical examination and investigation...
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Sharon Crasnow
Methodologists in political science have advocated for causal process tracing as a way of providing evidence for causal mechanisms. Recent analyses of the method have sought to provide more rigorous accounts of how it provides such evidence. These accounts have focused on the role of process tracing for causal inference and specifically on the way it can be used with case studies for testing hypotheses. While the analyses do provide an account of such testing, they pay little attention to the narrative elements of case studies...
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Mary Terrall
In the eighteenth century, natural histories of animals incorporated narratives about animal behaviour and narratives of discovery and experimentation. Naturalists used first-person accounts to link the stories of their scientific investigations to the stories of the animal lives they were studying. Understanding nature depended on narratives that shifted back and forth in any given text between animal and human, and between individual cases and generalizations about species. This paper explores the uses of narrative through examples from the work of René-Antoine Ferchault de Réaumur and Abraham Trembley...
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Paul A Roth
This essay argues that narrative explanations prove uniquely suited to answering certain explanatory questions, and offers reasons why recognizing a type of statement that requires narrative explanations crucially informs on their assessment. My explication of narrative explanation begins by identifying two interrelated sources of philosophical unhappiness with them. The first I term the problem of logical formlessness and the second the problem of evaluative intractability. With regard to the first, narratives simply do not appear to instantiate any logical form recognized as inference licensing...
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
John Beatty
Narratives are about not only what actually happened, but also what might have. And narrative explanations make productive use of these unrealized possibilities. I discuss narrative explanation as a form of counterfactual, difference-making explanation, with a demanding qualification: the counterfactual conditions are historically or narratively (not merely logically or physically) possible. I consider these issues in connection with literary, historical and scientific narratives.
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Alirio Rosales
Theories are composed of multiple interacting components. I argue that some theories have narratives as essential components, and that narratives function as integrative devices of the mathematical components of theories. Narratives represent complex processes unfolding in time as a sequence of stages, and hold the mathematical elements together as pieces in the investigation of a given process. I present two case studies from population genetics: R. A. Fisher's "mas selection" theory, and Sewall Wright's shifting balance theory...
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Adrian Currie, Kim Sterelny
We argue that narratives are central to the success of historical reconstruction. Narrative explanation involves tracing causal trajectories across time. The construction of narrative, then, often involves postulating relatively speculative causal connections between comparatively well-established events. But speculation is not always idle or harmful: it also aids in overcoming local underdetermination by forming scaffolds from which new evidence becomes relevant. Moreover, as our understanding of the past's causal milieus become richer, the constraints on narrative plausibility become increasingly strict: a narrative's admissibility does not turn on mere logical consistency with background data...
April 2017: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science
Mary S Morgan, M Norton Wise
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
April 2017: 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
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