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5. Topics: Historical Epistemology of Mechanics [Prof. Oliveira, Brazil]

Start Date:
26. June 2015, 15:50
Finish date:
26. June 2015, 16:10
MESHS - Espace Baïetto



Some Methodological Considerations about History of Sciences


Abstract Roundtable

It is very common to find papers, thesis or even books claiming to be classified as a History of Sciences text but that do not fulfil the necessary methodological requirements to be included in this field of knowledge. This, because these texts in spite of a rich description of scientific facts like experiments, discoveries or theories do not present the two basic characteristics that we consider fundamental for a History of Sciences text:

  1. An interpretative methodology: The text on History of Sciences should not only describe but give an interpretative method of analysis trying to explain the scientific experiment, discovery or theory under consideration using elements from the context like historical development, economics, politics or cultural influences. In addition the author must combine the context influences with internal causes like psychological motivations, logical and methodological problems to be solved, mathematical tools, etc. A good historian of sciences must found a suitable combination of the external and internal factors for a given situation.
  2. A predictive attempt: In spite of many difficulties to predict in History of Sciences the text should try to study the possibilities for future developments of the situation analyzed. This because for the historian in general, not only the historian of science, the future appears in germ into the present. The main objective for the historian is to reveal the future possibilities by means of the historical method. The historical method should present this characteristic of highlighting the most probable ways.



  • [1] Anne, Bruce, Knowledge of the External World, London and New York, 1991.
  • [2] Ayer, A. I., The Problem of Knowledge, Harmondsworth, Middlesen, 1956.
  • [3] Bonjour, Lawrence, The Structure of Empirical Knowledge, Cambridge, Mass., 1985.
  • [4] Craig, Edward, Knowledge and the State of Nature, Oxford, 1990.
  • [5] Mill, John Stuart, A System of Logic, London, 1843.
  • [6] Plato, Theaetetus, trans. By E. M. Cornford, Cambridge, 1934.
  • [7] Polloc, John L., Contemporary Theories of Knowledge, Totowa, N. J., 1986.