Models of historical epistemology
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Over the last decade, ‘historical epistemology’ has gained a central position in debates over the relation between history of science and philosophy of science. Hans-Jörg Rheinberger’s On Historicizing Epistemology (OHE) is both a brief pre-history of and an intervention in current discussions. In ninety pages, Rheinberger presents a wide range of historical cum philosophical theories of scientific knowledge from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Although these theories are presented roughly in chronological order, OHE does not characterize them as forming a single tradition. What unifies these approaches is merely the fact that they all were responses to key trends and junctures in the sciences themselves.
The narrative of OHEbegins at the end of the nineteenth century. The experience of radical scientific change in the case of physics had brought about a deep epistemological crisis. It posed serious problems for theories of scientific knowledge that had concentrated on...