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Series: Series in Philosophy of Science

Scientonomy: The Challenges of Constructing a Theory of Scientific Change

Edited by Hakob Barseghyan, University of Toronto et al.

December 2021 / ISBN: 978-1-64889-295-0
Availability: In stock
281pp. ¦ $84 £65 €72

During the so-called ‘historical turn’ in the philosophy of science, philosophers and historians boldly argued for general patterns throughout the history of science. From Kuhn’s landmark "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" until the "Scrutinizing Science" project led by Larry Laudan, there was optimism that there could be a general theoretical approach to understanding the process of scientific change. This optimism gradually faded as historians and philosophers began to focus on the details of specific case studies located within idiosyncratic historical, cultural, and political contexts, and abandoned attempts to uncover general patterns of how scientific theories and methods change through time. Recent research has suggested that while we have learned a great deal about the diversity and complexity of scientific practices across history, the push to abandon hope for a broader understanding of scientific change was premature. Because of this, philosophers, historians, and social scientists have become interested in reviving the project of understanding the mechanism of scientific change while respecting the diversity and complexity that has been unveiled by careful historical research over the past few decades. The chapters in this volume consider a particular proposal for a general theory of how scientific theories and methods change over time, first articulated by Hakob Barseghyan in "The Laws of Scientific Change" and since developed in a series of papers by a variety of members of the scientonomy community. The chapters consider a wide range of issues, from conceptual and historical challenges to the posited intellectual patterns in the history of science, to the possibility of constructing a general theory of scientific change, to begin with. Offering a new take on the project of constructing a theory of scientific change and integrating historical, philosophical, and social studies of science, this volume will be of interest to historians, philosophers, and sociologists of science.

A Theory of Wonder: Evolution, Brain and the Radical Nature of Science

Gonzalo Munévar, Lawrence Technological University

June 2021 / ISBN: 978-1-64889-197-7
Availability: In stock
206pp. [Color] ¦ $73 £53 €60

‘A Theory of Wonder’ aims to determine the best way science can satisfy our sense of wonder by exploring the world. Empiricism tells us that science succeeds because it follows the scientific method: Observation passes judgment on Theory – supporting or rejecting it. Much credit is given to the inventor of the method, Galileo, but when historically-minded philosophers of science like Kuhn and Feyerabend called our attention to what Galileo actually wrote and did, we were shocked to find out that Galileo instead drives a dagger through the heart of empiricism; he strikes down the distinction between theory and observation. Plain facts, like the vertical fall of a stone, ruled out the motion of the Earth. To conclude that the stone really falls vertically, however, we must assume that the Earth does not move. If it does move, then the stone only “seems” to fall vertically. Galileo then replaced the “facts” against the motion of the Earth with “facts” that included such motion. This process is typical during scientific revolutions. A good strategy for science is to elaborate radical alternatives; then, and on their basis, reconsider what counts as evidence. Feyerabend was called irrational for this suggestion; but looking at the practice of science from the perspective of evolution and neuroscience shows that the suggestion is very reasonable instead, and, moreover, explains why science works best as a radical form of knowledge. It also leads to a sensible biological form of relative truth, with preliminary drafts leading to exciting discussions with other researchers in the philosophy of science. This book will be of particular interest to university students, instructors and researchers in history or philosophy of science, as well as those with a general interest in the nature of science.

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