Synthese

, Volume 67, Issue 1, pp 77–90 | Cite as

Descartes as critic of Galileo's scientific methodology

  • Roger Ariew
Article

Abstract

Some philosophers of science suggest that philosophical assumptions must influence historical scholarship, because history (like science) has no neutral data and because the treatment of any particular historical episode is going to be influenced to some degree by one's prior philosophical conceptions of what is important in science. However, if the history of science must be laden with philosophical assumptions, then how can the history of science be evidence for the philosophy of science? Would not an inductivist history of science confirm an inductivist philosophy of science and a conventionalist history of science confirm a conventionalist philosophy of science? I attempt to resolve this problem; essentially, I deny the claim that the history of science must be influenced by one's conception of what is important in science — one's general philosophy of science. To accomplish the task I look at a specific historical episode, together with its history, and draw some metamethodological conclusions from it. The specific historical episode I examine is Descartes' critique of Galileo's scientific methodology.

Keywords

Scientific Methodology Philosophical Conception General Philosophy Historical Scholarship Philosophical Assumption 

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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger Ariew
    • 1
  1. 1.Dept. of PhilosophyVA Polytechnic Inst. and State UniversityBlacksburgUSA

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