Wykstra, Stephen. (1980) Toward a Historical Meta-Method for Assessing Normative Methodologies: Rationability, Serendipity, and the Robinson Crusoe Fallacy. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, 211-222.
|Title||Toward a Historical Meta-Method for Assessing Normative Methodologies: Rationability, Serendipity, and the Robinson Crusoe Fallacy|
|Resource Type||journal article|
|Journal||PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association|
During the past two decades, much philosophy of science has been focused on issues about the norms and methods by which scientific theories are rationally appraised; and increasingly, philosophers have turned to history of science as a touchstone for assessing normative methodologies purporting to elucidate scientific rationality. But even among such historical methodologists, there is much disagreement and unclarity about how historical study of science can arbitrate between rival methodological theories; and until progress is made at this meta-methodological level, the very legitimacy of this role for history will remain controversial. (Keynotes in the controversy are sounded in Kuhn (1970b, pp. 235-41); Lakatos (1971); Giere (1973); McMullin (1976); Burian (1977); and Laudan (1977, pp. 158-63).) This paper begins by arguing that the meta-method implicit in much historical methodology is different from the explicit meta-methodology most often touted. This implicit meta-method - involving the rationability principle - appears to lead almost inevitably to the methodological anarchism of Feyerabend, and (in mitigated forms) of Lakatos and Kuhn. Hence the main aim of this paper: to redeem the rationability principle by arguing that this specter of anarchism can be exorcized from it, provided that we avoid several misconceptions about the nature of rational norms. ?he most serious of these is a Robinson Crusoe fallacy which, having originally misled Kuhn to anarchistic conclusions, has more recently confounded a dispute between Gruünbaum and Worrall.