, Volume 196, Issue 3, pp 795–818 | Cite as

Science and common sense: perspectives from philosophy and science education

  • Sara GreenEmail author
S.I.: Systematicity - The Nature of Science


This paper explores the relation between scientific knowledge and common sense intuitions as a complement to Hoyningen-Huene’s account of systematicity. On one hand, Hoyningen-Huene embraces continuity between these in his characterization of scientific knowledge as an extension of everyday knowledge, distinguished by an increase in systematicity. On the other, he argues that scientific knowledge often comes to deviate from common sense as science develops. Specifically, he argues that a departure from common sense is a price we may have to pay for increased systematicity. I argue that to clarify the relation between common sense and scientific reasoning, more attention to the cognitive aspects of learning and doing science is needed. As a step in this direction, I explore the potential for cross-fertilization between the discussions about conceptual change in science education and philosophy of science. Particularly, I examine debates on whether common sense intuitions facilitate or impede scientific reasoning. While contending that these debates can balance some of the assumptions made by Hoyningen-Huene, I suggest that a more contextualized version of systematicity theory could supplement cognitive analysis by clarifying important organizational aspects of science.


Conceptual change Common sense Science education Systematicity Analogies Scientific reasoning 



I would like to thank Andrea diSessa, William Bechtel and two anonymous reviewers for extremely useful comments to an earlier version of this paper. Discussions with my colleagues at Department of Science Education on this topic in connection to a ‘Scholarly Friday’ workshop were important for my reflections on the relation between scientific knowledge and common sense. I would also like to thank Karim Bschir, Simon Lohse, and Hasok Chang for editing this special issue.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Science EducationUniversity of CopenhagenCopenhagenDenmark

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