What’s in It for the Historian of Science? Reflections on the Value of Philosophy of Science for History of Science
Arabatzis T. What’s in It for the Historian of Science? Reflections on the Value of Philosophy of Science for History of Science. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science [Internet]. 2017;31(1):69-82.
In this article, I explore the value of philosophy of science for history of science. I start by introducing a distinction between two ways of integrating history and philosophy of science: historical philosophy of science (HPS) and philosophical history of science (PHS). I then offer a critical discussion of Imre Lakatos’s project to bring philosophy of science to bear on historical interpretation. I point out certain flaws in Lakatos’s project, which I consider indicative of what went wrong with PHS in the past. Finally, I put forward my own attempt to bring out the historiographical potential of philosophy of science. Starting from Norwood Russell Hanson’s insight that historical studies of science involve metascientific concepts, I argue that philosophical reflection on those concepts can be (and, indeed, has been) historiographically fruitful. I focus on four issues (epistemic values, experimentation, scientific discovery and conceptual change) and discuss their significance and utility for historiographical practice.