Vom Nutzen der Historie für die Wissenschaftsphilosophie


  • Ich danke dem Herausgeber der Berichte für die Einladung zur Teilnahme an der Diskussion um das Verhältnis von Wissenschaftsphilosophie und Wissenschaftsgeschichte und zwei anonymen Gutachtern für ihre Vorschläge und kritischen Anmerkungen.


Of the Merits of History for Philosophy of Science. This essay is inspired by some of the contributions to the two special issues “History of Science and Philosophy of Science” of the journal Berichte zur Wissenschaftsgeschichte. I consider possible roles of historical study for philosophy of science. The first part of the essay discusses contributions to the Anglo-American debate about history and philosophy of science in the 1960s and 1970s. I present two approaches. According to Larry Laudan and others, philosophy of science should be regarded as an empirical theory of science, which has to be tested against historical episodes. I show why this conception of philosophy of science is problematic. According to Dudley Shapere and others, by contrast, philosophical analysis of science requires hermeneutic understanding and should include the study of the development of scientific knowledge. I agree that the method of philosophy of science is best described as hermeneutic. To defend a genuine historical-hermeneutic philosophy of science, however, one would have to demonstrate the privilege of historical analysis over other forms of science studies, such as sociology of science or studies of science communication. I do not think that such a demonstration can be made.