Laudan, Laudan, and Donovan (1988)

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Laudan, Rachel; Laudan, Larry and Donovan, Arthur. (1988) Testing Theories of Scientific Change. In Donovan, Laudan, and Laudan (Eds.) (1988), 3-44.

Title Testing Theories of Scientific Change
Resource Type collection article
Author(s) Rachel Laudan, Arthur Donovan, Larry Laudan
Year 1988
Collection Donovan, Laudan, and Laudan (Eds.) (1988)
Pages 3-44


Science is accorded high value in our culture because, unlike many other intellectual endeavors, it appears capable of producing increasingly reliable knowledge. During the last quarter century a group of historians and philosophers of science (known variously as 'theorists of scientific change', the 'post-positivist school' or the 'historical school') has proposed theories to explain progressive change in science. Their concepts and models have received such keen attention that terms like 'paradigm' have passed from obscurity to common speech. In this volume, we subject key claims of some of the theorists of scientific change to just that kind of empirical scrutiny that has been so characteristic of science itself. Certain claims emerge unscathed - the existence and importance of large-scale theories (guiding assumptions) in the physical sciences for example. Others, such as the supposed importance of novel predictions or the alleged insignificance of anomalies, seem to be without foundation. We conclude that only by engaging in testing of this sort will the study of science be able to make progress.