Dechauffour (2022)

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Dechauffour, Guillaume. (2022) Thinking Big: The Science of Change and the Historicity of Scientific Method. In Barseghyan et al. (Eds.) (2022), 123-142.

Title Thinking Big: The Science of Change and the Historicity of Scientific Method
Resource Type collection article
Author(s) Guillaume Dechauffour
Year 2022
Collection Barseghyan et al. (Eds.) (2022)
Pages 123-142


Scientonomy seems to hold conflicting views about the historicity of scientific method. On the one hand, it is said that scientific methods are immanent to scientific mosaics and therefore change through time. On the other hand, the distinction between substantive and procedural methods seems to suggest that there are transcendent, unchangeable methods. I argue that this contradiction can be resolved by re-evaluating the role of problems: by integrating problems as constitutive elements of scientific mosaics, scientonomy can work towards a theory of scientific change without relying on the presupposition that some normative aspects of science must not change. In that perspective, norms originate in the relation between a problem, which creates a need for theoretical innovation, and a method, which creates an actual means to solve a problem. A problem-based scientonomy would then have to build a genealogical, rather than normative, approach to the source of scientificity by describing the progression from mysteries to scientific problems. Moreover, because they do not come from nowhere but express actual interactions with the world, problems can help us understand the relation between scientific change and other kinds of change. The primacy of actual problems over rational norms points to the immanence of reason: reason should be conceived as an evolutive feature of human communities. Finally, the relation between a theory of scientific change, evolutionary epistemology, and a general theory of change is investigated.