Call for abstracts: Styles of Thinking & Doing in the Ecological History of Scientific Knowledge and Practices

Ian Hacking (1982) initiated the project of exploring ‘styles of scientific reasoning’ by drawing from Alistair C. Crombie’s (1994) historical investigation on ‘styles of scientific thinking in the European tradition.’ Through this project, Hacking emphasized that ‘reason has a history’ and how standards of rationality emerge and evolve historically. Recognized as a valuable historical and philosophical tool for analysis (Hacking 1992), various historians and philosophers of science began incorporating this concept into their research (e.g., Davidson 1987; Gavroglu 1990; Schweber 1997; Radick 2000; Reck 2009; Elwick 2007; Winther 2012, 2013, 2015).

In later installments of his style project, Hacking (2012) related what he came to call ‘styles of thinking & doing’ to a cognitive and an ‘ecological’ history of reason (Atran 1990; Netz 1999). The aim of this symposium is to provide a reassessment of Hacking’s project, by engaging closely and critically with Hacking’s arguments on scientific styles. In this respect, some of the questions that this symposium will discuss are: What are the implications of Hacking’s theory of scientific styles at the level of language, truth, and understanding? What roles have styles played throughout the history of the sciences? How effective are styles as a historical-philosophical tool for comprehending scientific knowledge and practices? In what philosophical and historical ways could this project be further developed, especially within the context of an ecological history?

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