When Historiography Met Epistemology

Sophisticated histories and philosophies of science in French-speaking countries in the second half of the nineteenth century


In When Historiography Met Epistemology, Stefano Bordoni shows the emergence of sophisticated histories and philosophies of science in French speaking countries in the second half of the nineteenth century. That process involved mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers, and was deeply linked to other processes that transformed the cultural and material landscape of Europe. In the literature, the emergence of the history and philosophy of science is chronologically associated with the turn of the twentieth century: the author points out that this meaningful starting point should be moved backwards. Since the 1860s, sophisticated histories of science and critical meta-theoretical remarks on scientific practice began to compete with naïve historical reconstructions and dogmatic views on science.
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Biographical Note

Stefano Bordoni, Ph.D. (2007), Pisa University, is Lecturer in Mathematics at Bologna University, and lecturer in Philosophy of Science at Urbino University. He has published several books and many articles on the history of science, and on the history of physics.

Review Quotes

"By and large this work is very well-researched and extremely interesting. For those interested in the history of science and scientists’ thinking regarding philosophical issues, especially on the continent during the nineteenth century, this work is a valuable addition to scholarship."
- Richard Feist, Metascience (https://doi.org/10.1007/s11016-018-0307-1), published on 7 March 2018.

"By positioning itself chiefly in relation to the historiographic theories advanced by I. Benrubi, A. Brenner et J. Renn, [...] this book constitutes, on the whole, a veritable and most welcome plea in favour of recognizing the complexity of the natural world, as well as the no less important historical and philosophical complexity of the scientific approach which is called to investigate it!"
- Jean-François Stoffel (Haute École Louvain-en-Hainaut), International Journal for the Historiography of Science (June 2017), pp. 163-165. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24117/2526-2270.2017.i2.16

Table of contents

Preface vii
Acknowledgements xi
Introduction: The Emergence of an Intellectual Stream 1
1 Critical Analyses of Scientific Method 28
2 Between Experimentalism and Mild Naturalism 56
3 Different Attitudes Towards Reductionism 85
4 Mathematics and Determinism 113
5 Scientists and Philosophers on Determinism 138
6 Naïve versus Sophisticated Meta-theoretical Frameworks 164
7 Histories of Ancient Science and Mathematics 190
8 From Theoretical Physics to Meta-theoretical Commitments 218
9 Scientific Practice between Metaphysics and Experiments 245
Conclusion 273
Afterword: Disappearances and Questionable Reappearances 277
References 309
Index to Names 330


All interested in the history of science and philosophy of science, and more specifically scholars concerned with the emergence of modern history and philosophy of science.

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