The Functional Approach: Scientific Progress as Increased Usefulness

In New Philosophical Perspectives on Scientific Progress. New York: Routledge. pp. 46-61 (2022)
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The functional approach to scientific progress has been mainly developed by Kuhn, Lakatos, Popper, Laudan, and more recently by Shan. The basic idea is that science progresses if key functions of science are fulfilled in a better way. This chapter defends the function approach. It begins with an overview of the two old versions of the functional approach by examining the work of Kuhn, Laudan, Popper, and Lakatos. It then argues for Shan’s new functional approach, in which scientific progress is defined as an increase of usefulness of exemplary practices.

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Yafeng Shan
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology


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