Is a Normative Historically Oriented Philosophy of Science Possible? A New Horizon for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (iHPS)

In this chapter, I analyze how the three main paradigms of the classic philosophy of science (Neo-positivism, Kuhn, and Popper) differently frame the relationship between history and philosophy of science. Then, taking inspiration from Popper’s
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  1 The final version of this chapter was published in Herring, E., Jones, K., Kiprijanov, K. S., & Chilton, L. S. (2019). The past, the present, the future of integrated history and philosophy of science . London   ; New York: Routledge   Is a Normative Historically Oriented Philosophy of Science Possible? A New Horizon for Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (iHPS) Eugenio Petrovich   Introduction In 1973, Ronald Giere famously framed the question of the relation between History and Philosophy of Science under the metaphor of marriage . ‘History and Philosophy of Science: Intimate Relationship or Marriage of Convenience?’, he asked in an important review of the debates taking place in the 1960s around the so-called historical turn in Philosophy of Science. i  As it is well known, the publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions  by Thomas Kuhn, as well as other influential works by Norwood Hanson, Mary Hesse, and Paul Feyerabend fueled the discussion between historians and philosophers of science. ii  Was it possible to integrate History and Philosophy of Science? And if so, how? Perhaps these questions are even more crucial today than in the 1960s, since the intellectual landscape around the Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (iHPS) is nowadays filled with strong competitors. From esoteric formal epistemology to post-modernist Science and Technology Studies (STS), the disciplines studying science have considerably thrived in the last decades. In this context, iHPS cannot postpone the crucial question about its identity, mission and theoretical foundations. The aim of this chapter is to deal with one of the core theoretical problems within iHPS, namely how History and Philosophy of science should be integrated into iHPS. After introducing three key and distinct positions in the debates surrounding the Structure,  I will propose a new horizon where the integration between the two could take place today: the arena of Science Policy. With this chapter, I claim the Philosophy of Science Policy would allow a new iHPS to stand out today, both as a research programme, and as a call for action. The first section of the chapter sums up three different views on the relationship between History and Philosophy of Science: the Kuhnian, the neo-positivist and the Popperian. I argue that these approaches form a Hegelian triad where Kuhn represents the thesis, neo-positivism the anti-thesis, and Popper the synthesis. I then focus on Popper’s position, which I call a ‘normative historically oriented iHPS ’, and I explain its distinctive logic, which I dub ‘exemplary logic’. In the second section, I show how the same logic shapes the Science Policy  discourse by analysing three different  2 examples of Science Policy production: Vannevar Bush’s report Science, the Endless Frontier  , the so-called Triple Helix model proposed by Henry Etzkowitz and, lastly, a Science Policy document by the European Research Council. In the third and final section, I outline the research agenda of the Philosophy of Science Policy (PSP), a research programme that I propose as a new synthesis between History and Philosophy of Science, where the Popperian approach to iHPS is combined with a focus on Science Policy issues Section 1. Three Ways of Conceiving the Relation Between History and Philosophy of Science In this section I introduce three different views concerning the relationship between History of Science and Philosophy of Science: the Kuhnian, the neo-positivist and the Popperian. These positions were proposed during the discussion about the historical turn in Philosophy of Science in the 1960s and 1970s. I focus on the theoretical tenets of each of the positions, and the logical relations between them. I claim that all the arguments can be aligned with the classic Hegelian logic of thesis-antithesis-synthesis. iii   1.1 Kuhn’s Empiricist Model   The first position I introduce is the one developed by Kuhn in the first chapter of The Structure,  which was   tellingly entitled ‘A Role for History’. The chapter ends with a statement where Kuhn clearly describes the optimal relation between historical reconstruction and philosophical theory: How could history of science fail to be a source of phenomena to which theories about knowledge may legitimately be asked to apply? iv   The key words in the quote above are ‘phenomena’ and ‘theories’. Kuhn’s core idea i s that History of Science provides the phenomena that theories of science (read Philosophy of Science) should account for. Hence, History of Science and Philosophy of Science stand in the same relationship as evidence and theory do. There is a clear division of duties between the historian and the philosopher of science, and their burden of proof is clearly separated. The historian of science collects and recount a specific class of phenomena (phenomena that specifically regard the development of science), whereas the philosopher of science should explain them via a theory of scientific change. Historical facts represent the test of philosophical theories, which are therefore meant to be empirical  theories  3 about a specific class of phenomena. Within the Kuhnian model of the relationship between History and Philosophy of Science, the testing function of historical facts is guaranteed by their independence  from philosophical theory, so that the direction of testing goes from Philosophy of Science to History of Science and not the other way around. v  Here we can define a Hegelian triad where the Kuhnian empiricist model is the thesis. The thesis can be stated as follows: the relation between History and Philosophy of Science on the one hand, and evidence and theory, on the other, is the same. Specifically, the function of History of Science is to provide the evidence that Philosophy of Science aims at explaining by a theory. 1.2 The Neo-Positivist Dualistic Model and the Normativity Issue In the context of neo-pos itivist philosophy of the 1960s, Kuhn’s Philosophy of Science was highly contested. A detailed reconstruction of all the objections raised against The Structure lies outside the scope of the present chapter. vi  What is of interest here is how neo-positivists criticized the Kuhnian model of the relationship between History and Philosophy of Science, proposing their own view, according to which History and Philosophy of Science are and should be  two distinct and different entities. Thus, the neo-positivist model represents the second phase of the dialectical logic: the anti-thesis. In the writings of Israel Scheffer, Carl Kordig, and Ronald Giere we can recognize a distinctive  pattern of arguments aiming to reject Kuhn’s model. Their main concern is that in Kuhn’s picture, Philosophy of Science loses its normative  power, which they claim to be its defining feature. According to Scheffler and Kordig, Philosophy of Science is intrinsically a  prescriptive  discourse on science, which aims to set methodological norms  for the scientific inquiry. vii  As much as Philosophy of Science is concerned with the scientific method, there is no interest in the actual practices of scientists but in the standard of rationality  that makes certain theories scientific . For the discussion around the standard of rationality, the temporal development of science is useless, since standards are conceived as logical  entities that are constitutively ahistorical. Consequently, Carl Kordig writes that even if all scientists in all ages were fundamentally irrational and broke every normative rule of the scientific methodology, this would not affect the scientific method itself. viii  To support their argument, both Kordig and Scheffler refer to a distinction that was first drawn by Hans Reichenbach and later on became a renowned model among philosophers of science: the distinction between the context of discovery  and the context of justification . ix  This distinction was srcinally put forth by Reichenbach as a mean to distinguish epistemology from psychology. According to Reichenbach, psychology deals with the actual  processes of thinking taking place in  4 the mind of scientists at work, inquiring the psychological genesis and conditions of scientific discovery (the ‘context of discovery’). Epistemology, on th e other hand, does not study a real process, but a logical  substitute consisting of all the logical steps, which are ideally needed to fully justify a scientific assertion. This logical object was called by Reichenbach ‘rational reconstruction’, and it is intrinsically both ideal and normative: ideal  because it does not happen in any specific space and time, and normative  because it corresponds to the steps that a fully-fledged rationality would take in order to justify any scientific claim. Logical reconst ruction constitutes the ‘context of justification’ of science, and it is the only object of epistemology. x  In the neo-positivist reading of Reichenbach, the context of discovery is stretched to include not only the psychology of science but all the conditions involved in the genesis of scientific theories, from social to economic and political context. History of Science is thus pointed out as the  par excellence  discipline dealing with the context of discovery, whereas Philosophy of Science is conceived as the study of the context of justification . Once the distinction between the two contexts and, hence, between the two disciplines is drawn, the final step of the neo-positivist argumentation is to invoke the so- called Hume’s law (no ought from an is) to r ule their relationship. According to Hume’s law, normative claims (ought) and descriptive statements (is) are logically independent, that is to say, the former does not entail the latter. Therefore, we cannot derive from stated facts (descriptions) what we ought to do (prescriptions). xi  In the case of science, the application of the Hume’s law shows that we cannot infer from the mere description of scientists’ behavior how science ought to be conducted. This means that evidence from the context of discovery (History of Science) cannot affect the context of justification (Philosophy of Science). Thus, the relationship between History and Philosophy of Science is severed from the beginning: the gulf between them is the gap between description and prescription, reality and normativity. A dualist model, where Philosophy of Science and History of Science lie on the opposite side of the ought/is dichotomy, opposes the Kuhnian empiricist model (History of Science provides evidence, Philosophy of Science theory). In this new model, the scope of History of Science is limited to a neutral description, whereas prescription is an exclusive domain of Philosophy of Science. As previously mentioned, in the dialectics that I am presenting, the neo-positivist model plays the role of the anti-thesis. According to Hegelian logic, the anti-thesis negates the thesis by exposing an essential fault within it. I argue that the neo-positivist argument unveils a real issue  that we find not only in Kuhn’s Philosophy of Science, but also in any other research project that aims to describe a scientific activity in the absence of a normative standpoint. xii  Ronald Giere has clearly highlighted this issue:  5 If one grants that epistemology is normative, it follows that one cannot get an epistemology out of the history of science  –   unless one provides a philosophical account which explains how norms are based on facts. xiii  Neo-positivist criticism shows how the Kuhnian empiricist model structurally lacks the theoretical machinery that is needed to support a normative dimension in Philosophy of Science because any attempt to bridge the distance between the descriptive and the prescriptive level will result in a violation of Hume’s law . The production of norms of science (epistemological prescription) from the description of scientists’ behavior (historical reconstructions) is indeed a special c ase of the derivation of normative statements from facts  –    that is precisely what Hume’s law prevents. On the other hand, neo-positivism provides theoretical room for normativity by discerning the context of discovery from the context of justification, as it acknowledges that there is a difference between what science is  and what science ought   to be. However, the price for normativity in the neo-positivist model is too high. The normative dimension of the context of justification is achieved by completely separating the philosophical discourse from the actual scientific practice. Because of the very distance between the context of discovery and context of justification, the object of Philosophy of Science is downgraded to a mere logical surrogate. Historically, the fate of the neo-  positivits project of a ‘logic of science’ has indeed failed mainly because of this criticism. Abstract models of scientific rationality were proved to be incapable of explaining existing scientific practice, as demonstrated by thorough sociological studies. Moreover, the methodological norms appeared to be too abstract to provide any useful guidance to scientists. xiv  In 1984, Dudley Shapere declared the end of the neo-positivist normative programme, and acknowledged that an a priori , normative definition of scientific methodology could not be provided. xv  The negation of the thesis (anti-thesis) is thus negated in turn. Should we then return to the thesis, the Kuhnian model, and give up the very possibility of a normative  Philosophy of Science? Is Philosophy of Science just a theory accounting for historical facts? If so, iHPS does not have any distinctive features, and it should be considered just as another province within the galaxy of STS. However, in the next paragraphs I demonstrate that this is not the case. Indeed, during the debate of the 1960s and 1970s, we find a third position that can be considered as a Hegelian synthesis  of the Kuhnian and neo-positivist models: the Popperian model of the relation between History of Science and Philosophy of Science.
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