A paean to contingency
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The contingency/inevitability (C/I) problem consists in questions about the extent to which science is contingent or inevitable, what parts of it are contingent or inevitable, and whether alternative scientific trajectories might be just as successful as the one we have. It is relatively new as a well-delineated object of philosophical inquiry, dating to Ian Hacking’s observation in The Social Construction of What? (1999) that the social construction movement raises questions about contingency and inevitability that can be understood as distinct from, and perhaps more promising than, longstanding debates about scientific realism and anti-realism. In the years since Hacking defined the key terms of the C/I problem, a group of scholars has coalesced around the questions he posed. Those questions motivated, for example, a 2009 workshop at the Fondation Des Treilles in Tourtour, France, and this book synthesizes its results.
A volume seeking to define an issue of such recent vintage faces...