chapter  2
Postpositivism and the History of Science
Pages 36

Historians and philosophers of science rst voiced their dissatisfaction with the positivist-Whig interpretation of the Chemical Revolution in the 1950s and 60s. In his seminal study Lavoisier – Th e Crucial Year, published in 1961, Henry Guerlac challenged the prevailing opinion that Antoine Lavoisier was ‘the father of modern chemistry’ because it overlooked ‘the most signi cant ingredient of the Chemical Revolution’, which concerned Lavoisier’s scienti c heritage and not his creative genius. Guerlac argued that:

Following Guerlac’s lead, subsequent scholars developed ‘thematic analyses of the Chemical Revolution from the perspective of larger developments in eighteenth century science’.2 New interpretations of the Chemical Revolution appeared when the positivist-Whig interpretative framework gave way to interpretive schemata associated with the rise of postpositivism, which shi ed the epistemological centre of gravity of science from individual experimentalists to theoretical traditions.