Philosophy of science and history of science: A troubling interaction

Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 31 (1):109-125 (2000)
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History and philosophy complement and overlap each other in subject matter, but the two disciplines exhibit conflict over methodology. Since Hempel's challenge to historians that they should adopt the covering law model of explanation, the methodological conflict has revolved around the respective roles of the general and the particular in each discipline. In recent years, the revival of narrativism in history, coupled with the trend in philosophy of science to rely upon case studies, joins the methodological conflict anew. So long as contemporary philosophy of science relies upon history's methodology to construct its case studies, it subjects itself to a paradoxical situation: the better the history, the worse the philosophy. An example of the methodological conflict is presented in the case of Antoine Lavoisier. This example also serves our ultimateconclusion, which is that distinctively philosophical methods of case-study design promise enhanced prescriptive powers for philosophy of science.



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References found in this work

Criticism and the growth of knowledge.Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.) - 1970 - Cambridge [Eng.]: Cambridge University Press.
Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes.Imre Lakatos - 1970 - In Imre Lakatos & Alan Musgrave (eds.), Criticism and the growth of knowledge. Cambridge [Eng.]: Cambridge University Press. pp. 91-196.
The function of general laws in history.Carl Gustav Hempel - 1942 - Journal of Philosophy 39 (2):35-48.
The naturalists return.Philip Kitcher - 1992 - Philosophical Review 101 (1):53-114.

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