Article ID: CBB130981946

The tragedy of the canon; or, path dependence in the history and philosophy of science (2021)


We have previously argued that historical cases must be rendered canonical before they can plausibly serve as evidence for philosophical claims, where canonicity is established through a process of negotiation among historians and philosophers of science (Bolinska and Martin, 2020). Here, we extend this proposal by exploring how that negotiation might take place in practice. The working stock of historical examples that philosophers tend to employ has long been established informally, and, as a result, somewhat haphazardly. The composition of the historical canon of philosophy of science is therefore path dependent, and cases often become stock examples for reasons tangential to their appropriateness for the purposes at hand. We show how the lack of rigor around the canonization of case studies has muddied the waters in selected philosophical debates. This, in turn, lays the groundwork for proposing ways in which they can be improved.

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Authors & Contributors
Barahona, Ana Echeverría
Billig, Michael
Brock, William H.
Bud, Robert
Chang, Hasok
Colace, Paola Radici
Bulletin for the History of Chemistry
Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Centaurus: International Magazine of the History of Mathematics, Science, and Technology
Environment and History
Cambridge University Press
Verlag Klaus Wagenbach
History of science, as a discipline
Historical method
Case studies
Butterfield, Herbert
Kuhn, Thomas S.
Lavoisier, Antoine Laurent
Time Periods
21st century
20th century, late
17th century
18th century
20th century
16th century
American Chemical Society
History of Science Society
European Society for the History of Science
Science History Institute (SHI)

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