Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 12/13, 1981

Ernan McMullin
Pages 13-33

The Rational and the Social

How are rational and social factors to be balanced in writing the history of science? This is a crucial issue for the philosophy of science today because of the new reliance on case-studies. The essay distinguishes between epistemic and non-epistemic factors, and within the former, between standard and non-standard factors. Using these distinctions, a criticism is mounted of the Presumption of Standard Rationality proposed by writers such as Lakatos and Lau dan on the one hand, and on the Principle of Unrestricted Sociality defended by the Edinburgh group in sociology of science on the other. An intermediate position is outlined and defended.