Advertisement

Rational Versus Sociological Reductionism: Imre Lakatos and the Edinburgh School

  • Theodore Arabatzis
Chapter
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 151)

Abstract

The publication of Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions initiated a new era in history, philosophy, and sociology of science. Its influence on history of science, though pervasive, has been indirect. The model of scientific development expounded in Structure has never been fully applied (not even by Kuhn himself) for elucidating a past scientific episode.1 On the other hand, by indicating that the very content of scientific knowledge is amenable to sociological analysis, it had a significant effect on sociology of science and thus indirectly on history of science. Given the well-known and profound transformation that Kuhn’s work effected in our philosophical understanding of the nature of scientific knowledge and its considerable effect on sociology of science, its indirect influence on history of science should not be underestimated. Two recent historiographical research programs, Imre Lakatos’s Methodology of Scientific Research Programs and the ‘strong program in the sociology of science’ associated with a group of sociologists in the University of Edinburgh, emerged in an attempt to respond to or develop certain aspects of The Structure. Their aim was to reconstruct past scientific episodes either, as in Lakatos’s case, in the light of a philosophical theory of scientific rationality, or, as in the strong program’s, in the light of a sociological theory of scientific practice. Since both programs were considerably influenced by Kuhn and, as I will argue below, were reductionist in that they aimed at reducing historical explanation to a rational or sociological core, it is instructive to make a comparative evaluation of them.

Keywords

Scientific Practice Scientific Revolution Scientific Rationality Historical Actor Sociological Analysis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Agassi, J., 1963, Towards an Historiography of Science, History and Theory, vol. 2, The Hague: Mouton.Google Scholar
  2. B. Barnes and D. Bloor, 1982, “Relativism, Rationalism and the Sociology of Knowledge”, in M. Hollis and S. Lukes, eds., Rationality and Relativism, Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, pp. 21–47.Google Scholar
  3. Ben-David, J., 1971, The Scientist’s Role in Society, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Second edition, enlarged, 1984 ).Google Scholar
  4. Bloor, D., 1976, Knowledge and Social Imagery, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Second edition, enlarged, 1991 ).Google Scholar
  5. Bloor, D., 1984a, “The Strengths of the Strong Programme”, in J. R. Brown, 1984a, pp. 75–94.Google Scholar
  6. Bloor, D., 1984b, “The Sociology of Reasons: Or Why `Epistemic Factors’ are Really `Social Factors’ ”, in J. R. Brown, 1984a, pp. 295–324.Google Scholar
  7. Brown, J. R., ed., 1984a, Scientific Rationality: The Sociological Turn, Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  8. Brown, J. R., 1984b, “Introduction: The Sociological Turn”, in J. R. Brown, 1984a, pp. 3–40.Google Scholar
  9. Brown, J. R., 1989, The Rational and the Social, London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  10. Galison, P., 1987, How Experiments End, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  11. Golinski, J., 1990, “The Theory of Practice and the Practice of Theory: Sociological Approaches in the History of Science”, Isis 81, pp. 492–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gutting, G., ed., 1980, Paradigms and Revolutions, Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  13. Hacking, I., 1981, “Lakatos’s Philosophy of Science”, in I. Hacking, ed., Scientific Revolutions, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 128–143.Google Scholar
  14. Hacking, I., 1984, “Experimentation and Scientific Realism”, in J. Leplin, ed., Scientific Realism, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, pp. 154–172.Google Scholar
  15. Hesse, M., 1980, “The Strong Thesis of Sociology of Science”, in her Revolutions and Reconstructions in the Philosophy of Science, Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, pp. 29–60.Google Scholar
  16. Hesse, M., 1988, “Socializing Epistemology”, in E. McMullin, 1988, pp. 97–122.Google Scholar
  17. Howson, C., ed., 1976, Method and Appraisal in the Physical Sciences, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Kuhn, T. S., 1970a, “Reflections on my Critics”, in I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave, 1970, pp. 231–278.Google Scholar
  19. Kuhn, T. S., 1970b, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. ( Second edition ).Google Scholar
  20. Kuhn, T. S., 1971, “Notes on Lakatos”, in R. C. Buck and R. S. Cohen, eds., PSA 1970, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 8, pp. 137–146, Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  21. Kuhn, T. S., 1977, The Essential Tension, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  22. Kuhn, T. S., 1980, “The Halt and the Blind: Philosophy and History of Science”, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 31, pp. 181–192.Google Scholar
  23. Kuhn, T. S., 1987, Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity 1894–1912, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. (Second editon, enlarged).Google Scholar
  24. Lakatos, I., 1970, “Falsification and the Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes”, in I. Lakatos and A. Musgrave, 1970, pp. 91–196.Google Scholar
  25. Lakatos, I., “History of Science and its Rational Reconstructions”, in R. C. Buck and R. S. Cohen, eds., PSA 1970, Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 8, pp. 91–136, Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  26. Lakatos, I., Musgrave, A., 1970, eds., Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Latour, B. and Woolgar, S., 1986, Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts, Princeton: Princeton University Press. (Second edition, enlarged).Google Scholar
  28. Laudan, L., “The Pseudo-Science of Science?”, in J. R. Brown, 1984a, pp. 41–73.Google Scholar
  29. McCarthy, T., 1988, “Scientific Rationality and the `Strong Program’ in the Sociology of Knowledge”, in E. McMullin, 1988, pp. 75–95.Google Scholar
  30. McMullin, E., 1984, “The Rational and the Social in the History of Science”, in J. R. Brown, 1984a, pp. 127–163.Google Scholar
  31. McMullin, E., 1988, ed., Construction and Constraint: The Shaping of Scientific Rationality, Notre Dame: Notre Dame University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Merton, R. K., 1973, The Sociology of Science: Theoretical and Empirical Investigations, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  33. Popper, K. R., 1965, The Logic of Scientific Discovery, New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  34. Reichenbach, H., 1951, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  35. Russell, B., 1945, A History of Western Philosophy, New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  36. Shapin, S., 1982, “History of Science and its Sociological Reconstructions”, History of Science 20, pp. 157–211.Google Scholar
  37. Van Fraassen, B. C., 1980, The Scientific Image, Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Woolgar, S., 1988, Science: The Very Idea, London and Chichester: Tavistock Publications and Ellis Horwood Limited.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theodore Arabatzis
    • 1
  1. 1.Princeton UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations