This year is the 50th anniversary of Thomas S. Kuhn’s seminal book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, which forcefully questioned the idea that science makes steady, rational progress towards truth. After half a century his challenge is everything but outdated. Look at the failure of economic science in the financial crisis, or the fierce debate about whether string theory is just a mathematical gimmick, unable to connect to empirical data. At the same time, however, the scientific enterprise appears to be more dynamic than ever, with an explosion of publications and new subdisciplines emerging by almost the hour. Philosophy of science has changed too. The abstract account of ‘method’ which Kuhn criticized have been replaced by efforts to model how science proceeds, exploring, for example the epistemic benefits and drawbacks of division of scientific labor. What is more, scientometric data and a wealth of case studies are readily available to empirically test theses about what progress in science means today. In this conference, will revisit this classical question in the philosophy of science in the light of current developments and invite contributions on both historical and systematic aspects of the progress of science. We particularly encourage work on progress in the special sciences, the emergence of new disciplines, and empirically informed reassessments of classical positions.
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS: Heather Douglas (Waterloo), Paul Hoyningen-Huene (Hannover), Theo Kuipers (Groningen), and Michael Weisberg (Philadelphia)