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The silence of the norms: The missing historiography of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Abstract

History has been disparaged since the late 19th century for not conforming to norms of scientific explanation. Nonetheless, as a matter of fact a work of history upends the regnant philosophical conception of science in the second part of the 20th century. Yet despite its impact, Kuhn's Structure has failed to motivate philosophers to ponder why works of history should be capable of exerting rational influence on an understanding of philosophy of science. But all this constitutes a great irony and a mystery. The mystery consists of the persistence of a complete lack of interest in efforts to theorize historical explanation. Fundamental questions regarding why an historical account could have any rational influence remain not merely unanswered, but unasked. The irony arises from the fact that analytic philosophy of history went into an eclipse where it remains until this day just around the time that the influence of Kuhn's great work began to make itself felt. This paper highlights puzzles long ignored regarding the challenges a work of history managed to pose to the epistemic authority of science, and what this might imply generally for the place of philosophy of history vis-à-vis the problems of philosophy. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.

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