chapter  5
20 Pages

Science and History

The last few decades have witnessed a remarkable increase in interest in this issue. a certain revolutionary aspect of scientific development has been discussed at length. what i propose is to examine, in a first section, the main consequences of such revolutionary aspects. i will be defending the thesis that a fully rational list of criteria to choose the correct way how to proceed through major upheavals in scientific thinking is a fiction. stated in another way, the way forward in such upheavals will inevitably involve personal value judgements that may originate from politically or socially contingent factors. There is a certain kind of practical wisdom involved. in the second section of this chapter i will explore how this dependence is in fact not a one-way dependence but a two-way dependence. on the one hand, personal attitudes and dispositions affect some crucial periods of the history of science. on the other hand, the historical awareness introduced in science studies affects personal attributes. it is here, in this latter kind of dependence, that the historical consciousness and the life of virtue may be explored. given that the search for the best explanation forms an integral part of the scientific mentality, i am assuming that prolonged exposure to this kind of practice, especially with the heightened awareness of history that it now involves, will enhance certain dispositions of the individual. an analysis of this aspect will enable me to determine which virtues and which vices are associated with this particular perspective on natural science.