An Epoch-Making Change in the Development of Science? A Critique of the “Epochal-Break-Thesis”

In M. Carrier & A. Nordmann (eds.), Science in the Context of Application. Springer. pp. 431--453 (2011)
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In recent decades, several authors have claimed that an epoch-making change in the development of science is taking place. A closer examination of this claim shows that these authors take different – and problematic – concepts of an epochal break as their points of departure. In order to facilitate an evaluation of the current development of science, I would like to propose a concept of an epochal change according to which it is not necessarily a discontinuous process that typically begins in a subarea of the sciences, has far-reaching consequences for the entire system of the sciences, and can be observed by contemporaries as early as during its initial phase. Taking this concept as my point of departure, I discuss various candidates for the status of an epochal transformation in the recent development of the sciences. Although there are sound reasons to doubt that an epochal break is currently taking place, one must concede that the sciences are probably in a profound transformation, which could unfold in various directions, perhaps even leading to epoch-making new characterizations of the sciences.
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