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The One Culture?A Conversation about Science$
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Jay A. Labinger and Harry Collins

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226467221

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226467245.001.0001

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Overdetermination and Contingency

Overdetermination and Contingency

Chapter:
(p.196) Chapter 16 Overdetermination and Contingency
Source:
The One Culture?
Author(s):

Peter Dear

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226467245.003.0016

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

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