Counterfactuals and history: contingency and convergence in histories of science and life

Hesketh, Ian (2016) Counterfactuals and history: contingency and convergence in histories of science and life. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C :Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 58 41-48. doi:10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.12.015


Author Hesketh, Ian
Title Counterfactuals and history: contingency and convergence in histories of science and life
Journal name Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C :Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1369-8486
1879-2499
Publication date 2016-01-17
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.12.015
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 58
Start page 41
End page 48
Total pages 8
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon Press
Language eng
Abstract This article examines a series of recent histories of science that have attempted to consider how science may have developed in slightly altered historical realities. These works have, moreover, been influenced by debates in evolutionary science about the opposing forces of contingency and convergence in regard to Stephen Jay Gould's notion of “replaying life's tape.” The article argues that while the historians under analysis seem to embrace contingency in order to present their counterfactual narratives, for the sake of historical plausibility they are forced to accept a fairly weak role for contingency in shaping the development of science. It is therefore argued that Simon Conway Morris's theory of evolutionary convergence comes closer to describing the restrained counterfactual worlds imagined by these historians of science than does contingency.
Keyword Contingency
Convergence
Counterfactual history
Evolution
Simon Conway Morris
Stephen Jay Gould
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: HERDC Pre-Audit
Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities
 
Versions
Version Filter Type
Citation counts: Scopus Citation Count Cited 2 times in Scopus Article | Citations
Google Scholar Search Google Scholar
Created: Tue, 02 Feb 2016, 15:06:12 EST by System User on behalf of Learning and Research Services (UQ Library)