SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

History and Philosophy of Science: Chang's Solution of the Dilemma of Case Studies and Its Pragmatic Roots
(History of Philosophy, English)

Notwithstanding the initial optimism, it turned out that the integration process between history and philosophy of science (HPS) faces some serious problems. Among those problems, one particularly daunting and confusing is usually labeled as "the dilemma of case studies" (DCS). According to DCS, there are two possible ways to conduct research in the integrated HPS -- ''bottom-up'' and ''top-down''. Either we start from historical cases and use the outcome of our historical research as a foundation stone of valid philosophical theories of science (bottom-up approach) or we start from the well-formulated philosophical theory and only then look up the historical episodes that might confirm or falsify our theory (top-down approach). The whole point of DCS is that neither of two ways completely satisfies. Namely, the bottom-up approach faces an instance of the old problem of induction: what general philosophical conclusions can we make from a single or even several well-connected case studies? On the other side, if we implement the top-down approach, there is a constant risk of biased selection.

In my opinion, the historian and philosopher of science Hasok Chang provided firm ground for the resolution of the problem. His main idea is that the relationship between history and philosophy of science is cyclic: while philosophy, as an abstract activity, provides us the framework of concepts that are necessary for the understanding of scientific history and practice (e.g. 'explanation', 'observation', 'experiment', etc.), historical examples are concrete instantiations of abstract philosophical schemes that can contribute to the improvement of existing philosophical concepts or to the creation of new ones. Good HPS research includes frequent transitions from history to philosophy (and vice versa) because complex cases often require both several conceptual improvements provided by history and many novel philosophical reinterpretations of historical facts. It is a matter of preference which discipline will we choose as a starting point. Consequently, the dilemma is resolved.

The main goal of my paper is to further strengthen Chang's position. I hope to achieve that goal by making connections between Chang's view and the following ideas from the early pragmatist philosophy: 1) John Dewey's view on the nature of logic, 2) Clarence Irving Lewis' idea of the pragmatic a priori, 3) the early pragmatist notion of "doubt".

Chair:
Time: 14:00-14:30, 20 September 2019 (Friday)
Location: SR 1.005

Petar Srdanović 
(University of Belgrade, Serbia)

2014-18 BA Philosophy, University of Belgrade

2018-19 MA Philosophy, University of Belgrade

2019-21 DAAD Stipendiat (MA Theory and History of Science and Technology, TU Berlin)



My main research interests are the general history and philosophy of science, pragmatism and the history of early analytic philosophy.

I also highly appreciate 18th-century philosophy and science (i.e. primarily the Age of Enlightenment).

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