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The nature of science. A dialogue


In this dialogue the view of Paul Hoyningen-Huene as defended in Systematicity. The Nature of Science is presented and criticized. The approach is developed dialectically by the two interlocutors, a series of critical points are debated and an alternative view is introduced. The dialogical form is intended to honor the general philosophical approach of the author summarized in the last sentence of the book, where he states that he sees philosophy as an ongoing, open-ended dialogue.

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  1. 1.

    The views of Hoyningen-Huene on the nature of science are drawn freely from his book Systematicity. When Hoyningen-Huene or the student are quoting or discussing views from other authors, then an endnote with the respective reference is provided.

  2. 2.

    Einstein (1936/1982, p. 290).

  3. 3.

    Howell and Prevenier (2001, p. 2).

  4. 4.

    Newton (1730/1952, Query 31).

  5. 5.

    See Ball (1919, p. 418).

  6. 6.

    Darwin (1895/1964).

  7. 7.

    Goethe (1802, p. 70): “He who would do great things, must display restraint; the master shows himself first in confinement” (English translation, C.M.).

  8. 8.

    Wittgenstein (1953/1958, § 67): “[W]e extend our concept of [science] as in spinning a thread we twist fibre on fibre. And the strength of the thread does not reside in the fact that some one fibre runs through its whole length, but in the overlapping of many fibres”.

  9. 9.

    Popper (1963/1989, p. 67).

  10. 10.

    Plato (Theaetetus, Section 155d).

  11. 11.

    Popper (1963/1989, p. 71f).

  12. 12.

    Howson and Urbach (2006).

  13. 13.

    Friedman (2001, 2002).

  14. 14.

    Kitcher (199320012011), Longino (1990, 2002, 2013).

  15. 15.

    Carrier and Nordmann (2011).

  16. 16.

    Neurath (1932/1933, p. 206): “Like sailors we are, who must rebuild their ship upon the open sea, never able to dismantle it in dry dock or to reconstruct it there from the best materials” (English translation, C.M.).

  17. 17.

    Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism (Book 1, ch. IE’).

  18. 18.

    Albert (1968/1985, p. 18f).

  19. 19.

    Chang (2012).

  20. 20.

    Jones (2003), Bernholz et al. (1998).


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I would like to thank Theodore Arabatzis, Karim Bschir, Hasok Chang, Katerina Ierodiakonou, Simon Lohse and two anonymous reviewers for many helpful comments and suggestions.

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Mantzavinos, C. The nature of science. A dialogue. Synthese 196, 775–793 (2019).

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  • Science
  • General philosophy of science
  • Criticism
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