Cementing Science. Understanding Science through Its Development

Dissertation, University of Turku (2019)
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In this book, I defend the present-centered approach in historiography of science (i.e. study of the history of science), build an account for causal explanations in historiography of science, and show the fruitfulness of the approach and account in when we attempt to understand science. The present-centered approach defines historiography of science as a field that studies the developments that led to the present science. I argue that the choice of the targets of studies in historiography of science should be directly connected to our values and preferences in an intersubjective process. The main advantage of this approach is that it gives a clear motivation for historiography of science and avoids or solves stubborn conceptual and practical problems within the field. The account of causal explanations is built on the notions of counterfactual scenarios and contrastive question-answer pairs. I argue that if and only if we track down patterns of counterfactual dependencies, can we understand history. Moreover, I define the notions of historical explanation, explanatory competition, explanatory depth, and explanatory resources. Finally, I analyze the existing historiography of science with the framework built in the previous chapter, and I show that this framework clarifies many first-order (i.e. concerning the history of science) and meta-level issues (i.e. concerning the nature of science in general) that historians and philosophers tackle. As an illustration of the philosophical power of the framework, I explicate the notion of local explanation and analyze the question of whether the developments of science were necessary or contingent.
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