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AISB event Bulletin Item

CALL FOR PARTICIPATION: The Historical Turn in Philosophy of Science: Kuhn, Feyerabend, Wittgenstein, 10-11 May 2013, Zuerich, SWITZERLAND

The Institute of Philosophy of the University of Zurich is pleased to
announce a masterclass:

The Historical Turn in Philosophy of Science: Kuhn, Feyerabend, Wittgenstein


Vasso Kindi (University of Athens) and John Preston (University of Reading)

10th - 11th May 2013, 9:30 - 19:00

The historical turn in philosophy of science which began in the late
1950s and early 60s rattled the way that philosophy of science was
hitherto practiced. New concepts, such as paradigm, incommensurability,
and theory-ladenness were introduced, and new problems were raised, such
as the rationality of scientific development, the integrity of
scientific practice, relativism and idealism in relation to science. The
effects were very disconcerting and quickly historical philosophy of
science was vehemently criticized and eventually marginalized as not
meeting the standards and expectations which this turn attempted to
question, for instance, an algorithmic and ahistorical understanding of
rationality, or the belief in unremitting scientific progress. The
reception that historical philosophy of science received obstructed the
full appreciation of several important aspects concerning its roots,
contentions and implications. Thus Wittgenstein was not on the agenda of
mainstream philosophy of science when historical philosophy was
discussed and his influence on the protagonists of this movement passed
largely unnoticed; the challenge that Kuhn and Feyerabend mounted to
Western rationalism was swiftly condemned rather than attended to; and
the concepts of paradigm and incommensurability were demonized rather
than carefully interpreted and judged.
In the seminar, we will put aside facile and worn-out categorizations
and assimilations. Instead, we will revisit the work of key figures of
historical philosophy of science, principally the work of Kuhn and
Feyerabend, to explore the dimensions and implications which were not
emphasized and generally recognized in the previous period. For
instance, instead of simply dismissing rationality, the emphasis on
practice shifts interest from an intellectualist understanding of
rationality to the concrete practical decisions scientists have to make;
and the historical dimension made prominent by historical philosophers
of science calls attention to the intricate relations between philosophy
and science in different historical periods and hence to the influence
exercised by scientists on philosophers, e.g., by Boltzmann on
Feyerabend and Wittgenstein. On this basis we hope to reach a more
judicious assessment of the historical turn, its achievements and its shortcomings.

Bibliography available on request.

Venue: Philosophisches Seminar, Zrichbergstrasse 43, 8044 Zrich, Room: ZUP-U-8