The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 10, 2001

Philosophy of Science

Marcelo Dascal
Pages 159-192

Controversies and Epistemology

I present and defend the thesis that the impasse at which the philosophy and history of science find themselves in the last couple of decades is due, to a large extent, either to the complete neglect or to a misguided treatment of the role of scientific controversies in the evolution of science. In order to do so, I first provide a preliminary clarification of the impasse to which I refer. I go on to explain why I see the study of controversies as a fundamental step in solving it. I locate controversies within the set of empirical phenomena of the class of ‘polemical discourses’, and I single out the properties of controversies which explain their potential role for solving the impasse. I then show how the extant epistemological options are unable to handle controversies in a satisfactory form, which explains their inability to solve the impasse. I conclude by formulating an essential desideratum for the solution of the impasse.