We use the term "modern historical science studies" to indicate a difference to the traditional history of science of the 19th century. We want to concentrate on four historical periods:
1. The 1920s and 1930s, when scientists and scholars such as Ludwik Fleck, Robert K. Merton, Boris Hessen, George Sarton, Gaston Bachelard, Alexandre Koyré, Edgar Zilsel or Henryk Grossmann started to investigate the epistemological, technical, social, political, and economic conditions for the production of scientific knowledge. On the one hand, this development was connected with the "crisis of reality" in the sciences and humanities addressed by Fleck, which emerged in the context of the development of quantum mechanics and of the theory of relativity. On the other hand, the experiences of total destruction in the course of World War I provoked a fundamental critical reinvestigation of the conditions for the emergence of scientific knowledge.
2. The second period started in Germany in 1933 and in Austria in 1938. Numerous Jewish, liberal, and leftist scholars in historical science studies lost their jobs, emigrated to other countries, or were incarcerated in concentration camps by the Nazis. The result of this development was a profound shift of the centers of historical science studies from Europe to, first and foremost, the United States. In the early Cold War, historical science studies remained important for the US and its Western allies because politicians considered scientific knowledge to be crucial for the race for world dominance with the Soviet Union. For Western science policy, it was central to gain historical knowledge about the conditions under which scientific research could be optimized.
3. The period from the early 1960s to the late 1970s started with the publication of Thomas S. Kuhn’s "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" in 1962. In this crucial book, Kuhn denied a teleological development of science and scientific knowledge and introduced his concept of scientific paradigms, which succeed each other. Imre Lakatos’ theory of "research programs," developed in the 1970s, led in a similar direction as Kuhn’s approach. The same counts for the "strong programme" of the Edinburgh school around David Bloor, Barry Barnes and others, which became prominent in the 1980s, with the exception that Bloor and his fellows attributed a more central role to the social conditions of scientific research than Kuhn and Lakatos. All these approaches were distinctive in their focus on theory, which was thought to inform paradigms and research programs. Philosopher of science Paul K. Feyerabend was an exception in this context because he criticized this concentration on theory and preferred a perspective that focused instead on the multiplicity of methods.
4. The most recent period in the development of historical science studies began in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This period started with the publication of Bruno Latour’s and Steve Woolgar’s "Laboratory Life" in 1979, which proved to be crucial for the development of study programs such as Science, Technology and Society (STS). These younger scholars applied ethnomethodology and approaches such as praxeology, feminist epistemology, and postcolonial perspectives, on the one hand to distance themselves from the focus on theory and on the other hand to criticize the Eurocentric-Western concept of reason. In this period, communication and media studies gained relevance, which was important for the development of history of knowledge.
We do not prefer any specific historiographical approaches to investigate this topic, but instead want to suggest the following perspectives that might be fruitful:
-Discourses (Michel Foucault), research programs (Imre Lakatos), epistemic figurations (Norbert Elias), collectives and styles of thought (Ludwik Fleck), paradigms (Thomas S. Kuhn), concerning for example STS, the "strong programme," or the "practical turn."
-Institutions, such as universities and non-university research institutes, chairs and faculties.
The workshop will take place at the IZWT at Bergische Universität Wuppertal. For further information please contact the organizers of the workshop. Contributions from junior researchers are particularly welcome. Please send a title and an abstract (max. 1 page) for the proposed 30 minute-contribution as well as a short curriculum vitae to Fabian Link: email@example.com. The deadline is 31 January 2021. Accommodations and travel costs will be financed by the IZWT.