Multiple discoveries, inevitability, and scientific realism

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 90 (December 2021):30-38 (2021)
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Abstract

When two or more (groups of) researchers independently investigating the same domain arrive at the same result, a multiple discovery occurs. The pervasiveness of multiple discoveries in science suggests the intuition that they are in some sense inevitable—that one should view them as results that force themselves upon us, so to speak. We argue that, despite the intuitive force of such an “inevitabilist insight,” one should reject it. More specifically, we distinguish two facets of the insight and argue that: (a) the profusion of multiple discoveries in scientific practice does not support the inevitabilist side of the inevitability/contingency of science controversy; and (b) the crucial role of background knowledge in scientific inquiry complicates the attempt to interpret the pervasiveness of multiple discoveries in realist terms.

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Author Profiles

Gustavo Cevolani
IMT School For Advanced Studies Lucca
Luca Tambolo
Università degli Studi di Trieste (PhD)

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ian Hacking.
Knowledge in a social world.Alvin I. Goldman - 1991 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The social construction of what?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Bayesian Epistemology.Luc Bovens & Stephan Hartmann - 2003 - Oxford: Oxford University Press. Edited by Stephan Hartmann.
Critical scientific realism.Ilkka Niiniluoto - 1999 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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