Dust in the Wind. The Mechanistic Approach to Explanation in Historiography

In this post, I discuss the mechanistic approach to historical (causal) explanation. I argue that while the approach has many virtues, it does not capture some important aspects of historiographical explanatory practices. — In the paper “Ephemeral Mechanisms and Historical Explanation” (2010), Stuart Glennan argues that historical events are often products of processes that can […]

All Along the Watchtower. On the Relationship between Philosophy and Futures Studies

In this post, I analyze the relationship between philosophy and futures studies. I do not intend to capture the whole picture. Rather, I reflect on the commitments that my own study of the estimating of possible futures of science makes to the nature of philosophy. In my view, the main distinction is to be made […]

Die with Your Boots on. Theories, Corroboration, and Rational Prediction

”It may be possible to excise all inductive ingredients from science, but if the operation were successful, the patient (science), deprived of all predictive import, would die” (Salmon 1981, 125). In previous posts, I have suggested that we should approach the estimating of possible futures (of science) in a theory-driven way: We need to use […]

Theoretical Structures in the Estimating the Futures of Science

I suggest that theoretical knowledge is in the essence of understanding the possible structures of future within which more specific events take place. It is a nice coincidence that Kuhn named his famous book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” as this sense of structure is what I have mind in here. Let’s use Kuhn as […]

Should We Correct Historiography on the Basis of What Happened Later?

In the journal Futures and Foresight Science 2(3-4) there have been interesting discussions about the relationship between historiography and futures research. The following passage from Martin Kunc’s “A modeler’s perspective: A commentary on Schoemaker 2020” was especially interesting: “Schoemaker states, ‘The word forecasting captures this very notion, suggesting that the momentum of the past casts itself forward, […]

Historical Counterfactuals Unconditionalized

It has been argued many times in the literature concerning historical counterfactuals that “When implementing a counterfactual antecedent, the historian thus asks what conditions would have to be present in order for the antecedent to follow from these conditions, and whether these conditions were likely.” (Reiss 2009, 719). I have discussed this issue in detail […]

Invariances in History, Science, and Future

In this post, I discuss to what extent the concept of invariance can connect historiography, sciences, and futures studies. I argue that we can find invariances concerning human activities, especially in the case of science. I argue that (a) science, historiography, and futures studies require knowledge of invariances, and (b) knowledge of invariances enable us […]

A Brief Note on Scientific Breakthroughs

Recently, we discussed about scientific breakthroughs in Tiedepiiri[1] (“The Circle of Science”). While this phenomenon is a close relative of scientific discovery, scientific innovation, and scientific revolution, the language of scientific breakthroughs has no established meanings in academic research concerning science. The concepts of discovery, revolution, innovation, and breakthrough all have different connotations. Roughly: Discovery […]

Classics of Historiography of Science. George Sarton

This post begins a series of posts that focus on some canonical figures and texts in the historiography of science. I write about their conceptions of history, science and future. Already in this text, the essential connection between history and future will arise. Beyond that, I find these figures interesting for many reasons. First, the […]

Losing My Religion. The Problem of Unconceived Alternatives

In the previous post, I wondered whether we can conceive a history (or future) of science that does not end up in the current state of science. We noted that the task is at least difficult. We have to use our current scientific knowledge in creating counterfactual historical scenarios of science and therefore our current […]