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Analytic Philosophy

Philosophy of Science

What happened in analytic philosophy of science over the course of the twentieth century?

The twentieth century was an extraordinary period of conceptual upheaval in how science was regarded. There was a rejection of hard-core logical positivism, beginning with Hans Reichenbach (1891–1953). Just as metaphysics and epistemology drew closer to the actual sciences, philosophy of science itself began to look more humanistic as traditional inductive confidence in objective facts was first dislodged by Karl Popper (1902–1994). Thomas S. Kuhn (1922–1996) then inverted the relationship between facts and theories with his notion of a paradigm and scientific revolutions.

Over the same time period, any lingering hopes in “vitalism” or some non-objective life force were put to rest by James D. Watson and Francis Crick’s discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. However, the mapping of the human genome at the turn of the twenty-first century did provoke more nuanced views on biological determinism, opening the possibility of a new philosophy of science of biology.



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