Recent Seminars and Lectures
Peter Vickers (Durham) - Do Philosophers of Science Know Their History? The Case of the Early Calculus.
Weekly Research Seminar.
This seminar was held in room 005, 48/49 Old Elvet, Durham. Refreshments were served from 11am with the talk commencing at 11.30am.
Title: Do Philosophers of Science Know Their History? The Case of the Early Calculus.
Fifty years after Kuhn's magnum opus, many philosophers of science still fail to make claims which are sufficiently historically informed. Or at least, they fail to justify major simplifications of, and departures from, the history of science upon which they base their philosophical claims. Here the so-called 'early calculus' of Newton and Leibniz is introduced as a relevant case study. A newcomer to the philosophy of science literature could not help but conclude that this is a clear case of an inconsistency in science. The claim is so entrenched that any apparent historical facts speaking against it would be interpreted, by a newcomer to the literature, as just that: apparent historical facts. One blames oneself before one blames a significant subsection of the philosophical community. However, I argue here that the philosophical community is blameworthy: the claim 'the early calculus was inconsistent' is at best extremely misleading. Wider conclusions for the relationship between philosophy of science and history of science are drawn.