Chapter

Overdetermination and Contingency

Peter Dear

in The One Culture?

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2001 | ISBN: 9780226467221
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226467245 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226467245.003.0016
Overdetermination and Contingency

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When historians and sociologists of science emphasize the contingency of historical outcomes by making the argument that things could always have come out differently, the point they are making is as much one of methodology as of descriptive accuracy. The methodological importance of stressing a supposed open-endedness in the historical story of science being told is that it counters the Whiggish fallacy to which Weinberg alludes. However, it is worth remembering exactly what that fallacy is. Weinberg represents it as concerning the absoluteness or historical relativity of theories.

Keywords: sociologists of science; descriptive accuracy; open-endedness; historical story of science; relativity of theories; Whiggish fallacy; Weinberg

Chapter.  2161 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science

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