Evidence-based History and Philosophy of Science

  • Joachim Schummer (Editor-in- chief of HYLE: International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry)
A3 01 (Sophus-Lie room)


History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) defends ideas about the methods of science based on historical evidence. The received HPS (propagated for instance by Popper, Kuhn, and Lakatos) supported their ideas by each selecting favorable historical episodes of science which they reinterpreted according to their own views. Because of biased case selections and very liberal interpretations, they lost historical evidence. In contrast, evidence-based HPS transforms the ideas of speculative HPS into operational categories and draws random samples from the history of science for statistical analysis, largely applying empirical methods of the social sciences. I illustrate the approach by an analysis of synthetic chemistry, a field that has remained incomprehensible and neglected by the received HPS, despite its all-dominating size.

Schummer: J.: “Scientometric Studies on Chemistry I: The Exponential Growth of Chemical Substances, 1800-1995”, Scientometrics, 39 (1997), 107-123.
Schummer: J.: “Scientometric Studies on Chemistry II: Aims and Methods of Producing new Chemical Substances”, Scientometrics, 39 (1997), 125-140.
Schummer: J.: “Why do Chemists Perform Experiments?”, in: D. Sobczynska, P. Zeidler & E. Zielonacka-Lis (eds.), Chemistry in the Philosophical Melting Pot, Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2004, pp. 395-410.


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Universität Leipzig Felix-Klein-Hörsaal

Katharina Matschke

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