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Scientific discovery and Wittgenstein's hinges

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Scientific discovery has been abandoned for a while by philosophers of science, as they have deemed any discovery story as only subject to empirical studies based on their analytical context distinction between discovery and justification. Recently, sociologists and their allied historians of science have advocated the retrospective, attributional model of scientific discovery, attacking the normative, philosophical context distinction and implicit, underlying naive scientific realism. Here this paper aims to make three cases by drawing on Wittgenstein’s discussions on hinge propositions: first, to show there are important aspects of scientific discovery which deserve careful philosophical scrutiny; second, to suggest a way out of futile debates between scientific realism and anti-realism around scientific discovery; third, to show there is another type of historiographical confusion regarding scientific discovery stories, and to propose a way of it.

This talk is part of the HPS Philosophy Workshop series.

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