Confrontation and Its Problems: Can the History of Science Provide Evidence for the Philosophy of Science?

In: Journal of the Philosophy of History
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  • 1 Post-Doc Fellow, History and Philosophy of Science Department, University of AthensAthensGreece
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In this paper I am concerned with the relation between the history of science and the philosophy of science from the perspective of philosophy. In particular, I examine two philosophical objections against the idea that the history of science can provide evidences to the philosophy of science. The first objection is metaphysical and suggests that given Hume’s law, i.e. that norms cannot be derived from facts and given that the history of science is a descriptive enterprise while the philosophy of science is a normative endeavor, the former cannot be informative for the latter. The second is epistemological and is often called the ‘case studies dilemma’. According to this dilemma, we can neither deduce general philosophical theories from particular historical cases nor test the former through the latter. I argue that although those objections fail to be fatal for the idea that the historical data can provide evidence for the philosophical theories of science, they can help us draw a proper image of the relation between the history and the philosophy of science. I conclude that this picture presupposes the constant epistemic iteration between the two disciplines.

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