International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Studies of Biology

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TUESDAY, JULY 7  /  15:30 - 17:00  /  DS-1520
Organized session / diverse format
The Epistemic and Methodological Upshots of Historicity

Adrian Currie (University of Calgary, Canada)


Carol Cleland (University of Colorado Boulder, United States)
Derek Turner (Connecticut College, United States)
Eric Desjardins (University of Western Ontario, Canada)

Scientists investigate many types of systems, from the well-behaved to the chaotic. Many systems of concern to historical scientists exhibit 'historicity': they are path-dependent; their dynamics depend necessarily on their past. Although there has been recent discussion of just what historicity amounts to, more needs to be done to understand its consequences for the epistemology and methodology of scientists targeting such systems. Are there qualitative differences between sciences concerned with path-dependent versus more general systems? What epistemic challenges arise from historicity? What methodological responses can (and do) scientists make to those challenges? Answering these kinds of questions will both further our understanding of science's potential to generate knowledge of the past and provide methodological guidance to science in practice.