Much as there is not to like in logical empiricism and the philosophy of science it gave rise to, there’s no doubt that philosophy has benefited enormously from this tradition’s accomplishments in formal logic, probability theory, and statistical reasoning. What if any effect has this work had on the history of science? How, if at all, should historians use the relevant formal techniques?
The integrated discipline of the history and philosophy of science is inherently hermeneutical: it requires philosophy to meet the descriptive demands of history, while expecting history to acquire the prescriptive force of philosophy. While prescriptivists like Lakatos stress the normative role of philosophy in the "reconstruction" of the history of science, descriptivists like Kuhn and Toulmin argue that the description of what scientists do or did is the sole and sufficient basis for determining what they ought to do. Would members of the panel situate their own practices in this hermeneutical circle and share with us their sense of how to blend the history of science and the philosophy of science in an integrated HPS?
In discussions with both historians and philosophers of science, I have encountered almost universal agreement that the two disciplines do not interact well and almost universal disagreement as to why. In the interest of developing a consensus regarding the problem, what are the independent axes of disagreement between historians and philosophers of science that prevent their integration? That is, what are the discipline-defining questions that historians and philosophers tend to answer differently? To narrow the discussion, the questions identified should be independent – a particular answer to one should not imply a particular answer to any other.
Integrated history and philosophy of science presumably means the commitment of its practitioners to take both history and philosophy of science equally seriously - so the manifesto proclaims. But can this ever be more than a programmatic idea? Historians of science will dismiss us for not doing 'proper' history of science; and philosophers will chide us for providing no more than illustrations of independently established philosophical insights. So can integrated history and philosophy of science ever be more than just a derivative approach?
The history of science (HS) has challenged many philosophical intuitions about science, and has posed a lot of problems that figure at the forefront of today’s philosophy of science (PS). Most prominently, the Pessimistic Meta Induction would most likely not possess the argumentative force it does without the evidence drawn from HS. Another example is provided by case studies by Worrall and Brush that have shown that novel predictions don’t seem to enjoy the epistemic import that is usually assigned to them in the PS community. Given what HS has done for PS, what has PS done for HS and what can it do?
Hume did not write anything about what in his day was called induction. The association is recent. We'll misunderstand the philosophy of induction and the history of inductive science if we overlook this fact in the history of the philosophy of science (HoPoS). Likewise for the study of hypothesis, law, inference, and so on. What is the role of HoPoS? Is it merely for elucidating current topics in PoS (as some in the HOPOS Society argue). Is it just part of HoS (as the &HPS Manifesto treats it)? Or is HoPoS a third thing crucial to integrating HoS and PoS?
In the heyday of the discipline, a group of the most prominent philosophers of science, such as Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend, Lakatos, Laudan, etc., approached methodological, epistemological, and metaphysical questions concerning science by analyzing what they thought were the central episodes in the history of science. Although their answers and their ideas are unlikely to satisfy most of us today, are we simply continuing where they left off, merely refining their general approach? If not, what major insight(s) make our view of integrating historical and philosophical analysis fundamentally different?
Assuming that there exist compelling reasons for doing so, how can we best integrate Philosophy and History of Science so that both historians and philosophers of science endorse the outcome? It is difficult, it seems, to satisfy at once the historians’ ‘hunger for details’, and the philosophers’ ‘insistence on rigor’. If it turned out that we could never succeed to satisfy them both at once, what might be the audience we address?
Why would there be a requirement of cooperation between history and philosophy of science? From within philosophy, no similar issue seems to be raised, at least explicitly, in domains like philosophy of law, philosophy of language, philosophy of history or even in the particular philosophies of the particular sciences (perhaps a similar issue arises in philosophy of art). Similarly, from within the discipline of history, there does not seem to be a demand for a collaboration of history and philosophy (other than the demand for the skills that preoccupation with philosophy offers).
It is widely accepted that to do good philosophy of science, a good grounding in the some scientific field is necessary. It is less widely accepted, I think, that good philosophy of science requires a good understanding of the history of science. What, specifically, is lost in the philosophy of science when the history of science is not considered (other than obvious issues relating to theory change over time)? Alternatively, are there areas in the philosophy of science that are relatively independent of the history of science (for example, confirmation theory)?
Margaret Masterman, in her 1970 critique of Kuhn's concept of paradigm, said: "The history of science, by its nature as part of the history of ideas, has got to be a discipline which helps actual scientists to get a deeper insight into the real nature of their own science." Social and institutional historians of science no longer would agree with this as a goal of their field. Can philosophers of science, still concerned with the development of ideas in science, provide "compiled hindsight" that may be useful to scientists and science students in some way? If so, what? If not, why not?
To what extent do the prospects for and purposes of an integration of the history and philosophy of science depend upon broader metaphilosophical conceptions of the relationship between the philosophy of science and philosophy more generally construed? For instance, how might the assessment of someone who conceives of the philosophical project as the investigation of how the manifest and scientific images “fall together in one stereoscopic view” differ from the assessment of someone who conceives of philosophy as at one with science and thus of the philosophy of science as the scientific study of scientific methodology?
Usually, historical examples (or case studies) are used in philosophy of science in order to give factual support to some arguments and theses (e.g., the pessimistic meta-induction). I actually have two questions; the first is just a personal curiosity: are there / can be other uses of the historical case studies in philosophy of science? The second question: given the problems of the procedures involved in sampling (systematic bias, (re)interpretation of these historical episodes in light of some philosophical assumptions, etc.), how convincing are, philosophically speaking, the arguments drawing (even partially) on these historical episodes.
A claim made for history and philosophy of science is that it can lead to better science. Integrated history and philosophy of science (IHPS) should yield knowledge not available through history or philosophy of science individually. Consequently, we could expect that IHPS would lead to insights in science not produced by the separate disciplines. How would we know that this is happening and are there any examples of IHPS having an impact on science?
History has traditionally been viewed by philosophers as a descriptive enterprise, in need of the normative aid of philosophy. However, if we think of history not as some finished product that one simply extracts from books, but as an activity governed by its own normative criteria, perhaps there is some overlap in the guiding principles of the two disciplines, and the analysis of this overlap could lead to their mutual improvement. Is there an interesting intersection between the normative criteria of philosophers and historians of science? If so, what benefits could the two disciplines expect by examining their complementary normative commitments?