Styles of Scientific Thinking or Reasoning: A New Analytical Tool for Historians and Philosophers of the Sciences

  • Ian Hacking
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 151)


A conference on the historiography of the sciences inevitably includes papers that edgily notice the arrangements between philosophers and historians of the sciences. Let us not squander our time in global metatalk. Friendship, collaboration, appropriation and even mutual indifference will work themselves out unaided by all-purpose generalities. Instead I shall introduce you to a new analytic tool and explain two quite distinct uses of it, one by an historian who originated the idea, and one by a philosopher who picked it up. They are complementary and at first sight asymmetric. The historian may conclude that the philosopher’s use of the tool is irrelevant to understanding the past, but the philosopher needs the history, for it the tool does not provide a coherent and enlightening ordering of the record, then it has no more place in sound philosophy than any other phantasy.


Scientific Thinking Correspondence Theory Thought Style Theoretical Entity Philosophical Anthropology 
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.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Althusser, L., 1972, Politics and History: Montesquieu, Rousseau, Hegel, Marx,London. Chomsky, N., 1980, Rules and Representations,Oxford.Google Scholar
  2. Cohen, I. B., 1982, I. B., 1982, “The Principia, Universal Gravitation, and the `Newtonian Style’, in Relation to the Newtonian Revolution in Science: Notes on the Occasion of the 250th Anniversary of Newton’s Death,” in Contemporary Newtonian Research, Zev Bechler, ed., Dordrecht, pp. 21–108.Google Scholar
  3. Crombie, A. C., 1981, “Philosophical Perspectives and Shifting Interpretations of Galileo,” in J. Hintikka et al.,eds., Theory Change, Ancient Axiomatics and Galileo’s Methodology. Proceedings of the 1978 Pisa Conference on the History and Philosophy of Science,Dordrecht, pp. 271–286.Google Scholar
  4. Crombie, A. C., 1988, “Designed in the Mind: Western Visions of Science, Nature and Humankind,” History of Science 24, pp. 1–12.Google Scholar
  5. Crombie, A. C., forthcoming, Styles of Scientific Thinking in the European Tradition: The History of Argument and Explanation Especially in the Mathematical and Biomedical Sciences and Arts,3 vols, London.Google Scholar
  6. Fleck, L., 1979 (1935), Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, T. J. Trenn and R. K. Merton, trans., Chicago.Google Scholar
  7. Gavroglu, K., 1990, “Differences in Style as a Way of Probing the Context of Discovery,” Philosophica 45, pp. 53–75.Google Scholar
  8. Hacking, I. 1982, “Language Truth and Reason,” in M. Hollis and S. Lukes, eds., Rationality and Relativism, Oxford, pp. 48–66.Google Scholar
  9. Hacking, I. 1988, “On the Stability of the Laboratory Sciences,” The Journal of Philosophy 85 pp. 507–14.Google Scholar
  10. Hacking, I. 1992a, “The Self-Vindication of Laboratory Science,” A. Pickering, ed., Science as Practice and Culture, Chicago, pp. 29–63.Google Scholar
  11. Hacking, I., 1992b, “Statistical Language, Statistical Truth and Statistical Reason: The Self-Authentication of a Style of Reasoning,” E. McMullin, ed., Social Dimensions of Science, Notre Dame, Ind., pp. 130–157.Google Scholar
  12. Hacking, I., forthcoming, “Radically Constructivist Theories of Mathematical Progres,” Iride.Google Scholar
  13. Husserl, E., 1954, Die Krisis der Europäischen Wissenschaften und die Transzendentale Google Scholar
  14. Phänomenologie: Eine Einleitung in die Phänomenologische Philosophie,Den Haag. Husserl, E., 1970, The Crisis of European Sciences and Transcendental Phenomenology: An Introduction to Phenomenological Philosophy,D. Carr, trans., Evanston, III.Google Scholar
  15. Knorr, W., 1975, The Evolution of the Euclidean Elements: A Study of the Theory of Incommensurable Magnitudes, Dordrecht.Google Scholar
  16. Pickering, A., 1989, “Living in the Material World,” in D. Gooding et al., eds., The Uses of Experiment: Studies in the Natural Sciences, Cambridge, pp. 275–98.Google Scholar
  17. Poisson, S. D., 1837, Recherches sur la probabilité des jugements en matière criminelle et en matière civile précédées des règles générales du calcul des probabilitésParis. Google Scholar
  18. Schaffer S. and Shapin, S., 1986, Leviathan and the Air Pump: Hobbes, Boyle and the Experimental Life, Princeton.Google Scholar
  19. Spengler, 0., 1918, Der Untergang des Abendlandes: Umriss einer Morphologie der Weltgeschichte, 2 vols, Munich.Google Scholar
  20. Spengler, O., 1926, The Decline of the West, Form and Actuality, C. F. Atkinson, trans., London.Google Scholar
  21. Weinberg, S., 1976, “The Forces of Nature,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 29, pp. 26–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wittgenstein, L., 1981, Remarks on the Foundations of Mathematics,I-142, 3rd edition, Oxford, p. 47.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Hacking
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations