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A Critique of Methodological Naturalism
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 16 June 2006
Larry Laudan defends “methodological naturalism” – the position that scientific methodology can be fully empirical and be subject to radical change without sacrificing the rationality of science. This view has two main components: (a) the historical claim that just as substantive science has changed and developed in response to new information and evidence, so have the basic rules and methods which guide theory appraisal in science changed in response to new information about the world; and (b) the philosophical claim that all aspects of science are in principle subject to radical change and evolution in the light of new information about the world. In this paper, I argue that one main historical example used by Laudan, namely, the scientific revolution that accompanied the change from the corpuscular to the wave theory of light, does not in fact support the view that there have been radical methodological changes in the history of science.
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