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History and Philosophy of Science

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Abstract

This chapter is concerned primarily with the educational roles and academic contributions of programs in history and philosophy of science (hereafter HPS) in Australasia. It focuses mainly on those that are most relevant to the overall project of writing a history of philosophy in Australasia. The philosophy of science has always been an important part of philosophy and so must be given prominence in this review. But the philosophy of science always needs to be discussed in relation to the history of science and to the methodology of its research programs. For it seeks to describe, analyse and evaluate the aims, methods and achievements of science. Therefore, it needs to be informed about the history of scientific thought and discovery and to have a good understanding of scientific research methods. The history, methodology and philosophy of science are, of course, three different enquiries, but it is hard to see how any one of them could be pursued successfully independently of the others. HPS departments around the world have generally acknowledged this fundamental interdependence of aims, and sought, with varying degrees of success, to accommodate them.

Keywords

  • Scientific Realism
  • Scientific Revolution
  • Dutch Book
  • Theoretical Entity
  • Scientific Research Program

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.

Brian Ellis is the author of the section “Introduction”; Rod Home is the author of the section “The University of Melbourne Department”; David Oldroyd is the author of the sections “The University of New South Wales Department”, “The Sydney University Unit”, “The Wollongong School”, “Deakin and Griffith Universities”, and “History of Science in Australia”; the section “Philosophy of Science in Australia” was authored by Brian Ellis, Howard Sankey, Neil Thomason, Keith Hutchison, John Forge, and John Wilkins, with helpful contributions by many others, including Alan Chalmers; Brian Ellis and Keith Hutchison are the authors of the section “Probability”; Neil Thomason is the author of the section “Statistics”; John Wilkins is the author of the section “Philosophy of Biology”; John Forge is the author of the section “The Ethics of Science”; Ruth Barton is the author of the section “History of Science in New Zealand”; Robert Nola is the author of the section “Philosophy of Science in New Zealand”; Philip Catton is the author of the section “Canterbury”; and David Oldroyd and Brian Ellis are the authors of the section “Conclusion”.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    James Bryant Conant, author (with L. K. Nash) of the influential two-volume Harvard Case Studies in Experimental Science (1957).

  2. 2.

    In 1984, AAHPSSS also founded a general HPS journal, titled Metascience. It was edited in succession by Randall Albury (UNSW), Michael Shortland (Sydney), John Forge (Griffith) and Nicolas Rasmussen (University of New South Wales). However, after a promising start as an ‘orthodox’ journal, it seemed no longer to be an attractive outlet for the senior people in the field in Australasia, and so under Shortland’s editorship, it became a review journal, or one devoted exclusively to book reviews (long or short) over the whole field of HPS (or metascience). It flourished in this form, and the editorship moved out of Australasia to Steven French at Leeds University and then to Stathis Psillos in Greece. But at the time of writing by far the majority of the members of the Editorial Board are still located in Australia. The journal was for a time published by Reidel and subsequently by Springer. It is now of good standing and the only journal of its kind in the world.

  3. 3.

    A set of odds and bets in gambling that guarantees a profit, regardless of the gamble’s outcome.

  4. 4.

    The direct effect of a learning experience will be to alter the subjective probability of some proposition, without raising it to 1 or lowering it to 0.

  5. 5.

    The St. Petersburg Paradox illustrates a situation where a naïve decision criterion (which takes only the expected value into account) would recommend a course of action that no rational person would be willing to take. The Pasadena Paradox draws attention to cases where an act can fail to have an expectation despite having well-defined probabilities and utilities for each of the relevant states.

  6. 6.

    As Savage wrote, ‘[Fisher] was often involved in quarrels, and though he sometimes disagreed politely, he sometimes published insults that only a saint could entirely forgive’.

  7. 7.

    For Wallace’s view of the history, with an emphasis on the relationship between MML, data compression and Bayesianism, see his poignant informal 2003 talk, ‘A Brief History of MML’, delivered soon before his death at: http://www.allisons.org/ll/MML/20031120e/.

  8. 8.

    In epidemiology, ‘per protocol’ (PP) analysis is contrasted with the ‘intention-to-treat’ analysis. It is a strategy of analysis that includes only patients who complete an entire clinical trial or other procedure analysed, as opposed to the ‘intention-to-treat’ analysis, which also includes the patients who dropped out (cf. Wikipedia).

  9. 9.

    His colleagues correctly pointed out that his fieldwork was a pleasant way of enjoying holidays in attractive parts of the world!

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Ellis, B. et al. (2014). History and Philosophy of Science. In: Oppy, G., Trakakis, N. (eds) History of Philosophy in Australia and New Zealand. Springer, Dordrecht. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-007-6958-8_19

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