VERSION HISTORY FOR METAMETHODOLOGY

 

July 2001  A BSPS conference talk by Adrian Haddock made me realise that the difference between a methodologist's account of some historical behaviour by a physicist, and a historian's (and a sociologist's) account of the same behaviour, could be described by trying to make a distinction between reasons (and good reasons), and causes.  The words could be used to try to express the difference, in the sense that a reason sounds like something propositional (He relied on that theory, because he had come to hear of the evidence of the observation of the phases of Venus), while a cause sounds like something scientific (He began to show that he relied on that theory, because his peers were starting to rely on it, and he was influenced by peer pressure).  However, as indicated by Michael Williams in the discussion, this is not particularly helpful; the words seem likely to lead to even more confusion.  I think that it is better to stick with a single word, and to use suffixes or adjectives to make the separate meanings reasonably clear.

   Adrian's talk also helped me, because it made clear that the confusion caused by methodologists, sociologists, and historians, trying to work over the same physics, remains sufficiently unresolved to justify this chapter (I don't mean that Adrian was confused, but that the fact that he was working in this area indicated that it was still worth working in.  A remark by Hasok Chang at the same conference led me to the same conclusion.

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