Towards a Mutually Beneficial Integration of History and Philosophy of Science: The Case of Jean Perrin

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Since the 1960s, there have been many efforts to defend the relevance of History of Science to Philosophy of Science, and vice versa. For the most part, these efforts have been limited to providing an abstract rationale for a closer integration between the two fields, as opposed to showing: (a) how such an integrated work is to be produced concretely, and (b) how an integrated approach can lead us to a better understanding of past and/or current science. 1 In this chapter, I argue that the most promising way to integrate the history and philosophy of science is the historicist-hermeneutic approach. I will present the main features of the historicist-hermeneutic approach, and will show, concretely, how it can provide a mutually beneficial integration of the History of Science and the Philosophy of Science. More specifically, I will employ the historicist-hermeneutic approach to elucidate one of the most problematic historical case studies in philosophy of science: namely, Jean Perrin’s argument for molecular reality, which he formulated at the beginning of the twentieth century.
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