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Integrated HPS? Formal vs Historical Approaches to Philosophy of Science

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Vos, Bobby 


The project of Integrated HPS (‘integrated history and philosophy of science’) has occupied philosophers of science in one form or another since at least the 1960s. Yet, despite this substantial interest in bringing together philosophical and historical reflections on the nature of science, history of science and formal philosophy of science remain as divided as ever. In this paper, I will argue that the continuing separation between historical and formal philosophy of science is ill-founded. I will argue for this in both abstract and concrete terms. At the abstract level, I reconstruct two possible arguments for the incompatibility of historical and formal philosophy of science and argue that they are both wanting. At the concrete level, I discuss how historical and formal philosophy of science have been brought together in practice, namely: in the form of a largely forgotten research tradition that I will refer to here as the study of formalized macro-units. After a brief exposition, I argue that this research tradition has been unduly overlooked by historically minded philosophers of science. Bringing together these observations, I argue that the divide between historical and formal philosophy of science is not grounded in any substantive arguments, but can be primarily attributed to disciplinary happenstance.



5003 Philosophy, 50 Philosophy and Religious Studies, 5002 History and Philosophy Of Specific Fields

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Synthese: an international journal for epistemology, methodology and philosophy of science

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