Fraser (2022)

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Fraser, Patrick. (2022) Episodic Rationality in Scientific Change. In Barseghyan et al. (Eds.) (2022), 105-121.

Title Episodic Rationality in Scientific Change
Resource Type collection article
Author(s) Patrick Fraser
Year 2022
Collection Barseghyan et al. (Eds.) (2022)
Pages 105-121


One of the most salient lessons from HPS as a discipline is that science is a living, breathing endeavor; one whose rules and values are constantly changing. As such, there is an essential tension between the hope for a coherent, unified conception of scientific rationality on the one hand, and the recognition of the diversity of perspectives which fit into the framework called science. The big question, of which I hope to answer a small part, is: how can rationality and relativism be reconciled with one another? To do this, I present a rational reconstruction of a theory of scientific change which resembles Barseghyan’s theory of scientific change. I interpret scientific knowledge modally; the scientific mosaic of a community at a particular time is taken to represent the actual instantiation of a collection of possible scientific changes, all linked to one another through a Kripkean semantics of possible worlds. I then draw a correspondence between accepted scientific theories and employed methods with logical axioms and rules of inference respectively and use this to construct a logical framework for studying the modality of scientific knowledge. I use this framework to obtain a notion of scientific rationality which is contextually localized, but still presents a clear direction of scientific development at every individual time step.