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Towards a Methodology for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science

  • Raphael Scholl
  • Tim Räz
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 319)

Abstract

We respond to two kinds of skepticism about integrated history and philosophy of science: foundational and methodological. Foundational skeptics doubt that the history and the philosophy of science have much to gain from each other in principle. We therefore discuss some of the unique rewards of work at the intersection of the two disciplines. By contrast, methodological skeptics already believe that the two disciplines should be related to each other, but they doubt that this can be done successfully. Their worries are captured by the so-called dilemma of case studies: On one horn of the dilemma, we begin our integrative enterprise with philosophy and proceed from there to history, in which case we may well be selecting our historical cases so as to fit our preconceived philosophical theses. On the other horn, we begin with history and proceed to philosophical reflection, in which case we are prone to unwarranted generalization from particulars. Against worries about selection bias, we argue that we routinely need to make explicit the criteria for choosing particular historical cases to investigate particular philosophical theses. It then becomes possible to ask whether or not the selection criteria were biased. Against worries about unwarranted generalization, we stress the iterative nature of the process by which historical data and philosophical concepts are brought into alignment. The skeptics’ doubts are fueled by an outdated model of outright confirmation versus outright falsification of philosophical concepts. A more appropriate model is one of stepwise and piecemeal improvement.

Keywords

Hard Case Paradigm Case Philosophical Concept Puerperal Fever Historical Episode 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

For helpful comments and debates, which have shaped this contribution significantly, we thank first and foremost the participants of the workshop “The philosophy of historical case studies” at the University of Bern (November 21–22, 2013). In addition, we are indebted to Michael Bycroft, Allan Franklin and Jutta Schickore; the participants of the Fifth Conference on Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (&HPS5) at the University of Vienna (June 26–28, 2014); the Visiting and Postdoctoral Fellows at the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Philosophy of Science (2014–2015); and the members of the Lake Geneva Biology Interest Group (lgBIG). Raphael Scholl was supported by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (grant number P300P1_154590).

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of History and Philosophy of ScienceUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.FB PhilosophieUniversity of KonstanzKonstanzGermany

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