For several years, I’ve taught a course on historical epistemology that emphasizes its roots in French history and philosophy of science (especially the work of Gaston Bachelard, Georges Canguilhem, and Michel Foucault). Recently, because of my work on expertise & democracy and virtue theory in science, I’ve become interested in using insights from both historical epistemology and “practice theory” (a loose conglomeration of approaches from sociology and philosophy) to inform historical analysis.
“Historical Epistemology and the History of Economics: A View through the Lens of Practice,” forthcoming in Research in the History of Economic Thought & Methodology.
To date, historical epistemology has made only limited inroads into the history of economics, usually in a form that derives from the Anglo-American version. In this lecture (originally for the Montréal Summer School in the History of Science and Economics, July 2015), I consider how the French tradition of historical epistemology might shape our understanding of the history of economics.
Daniel J Hicks and Thomas A. Stapleford, “The Virtues of Scientific Practice: MacIntyre, Virtue Ethics, and the Historiography of Science,” Isis: Journal of the History of Science Society 107, no. 3 (September 2016): 449-472.
In this essay, the philosopher of science Dan Hicks and I outline a view of “communal practices” drawn from the work of Alasdair MacIntyre and reflect on how it can inform the ways in which scholars think and write about the history of science.
“The Historiography of Practice.” Presentation at the History of Science Society, 2014 (Chicago, Ill.) [copy available on request]
This talk explores how the use of practice as an analytic concept in the history of science has expanded over time. Whereas writing about practice once meant looking strictly at changes in experimental work, methodology, or techniques that had direct epistemic import, today the focus has broadened to include practices whose significance lies in the cultivation of particular habits or ways of being. Likewise, even laboratory techniques can be seen as serving a dual role: creating specific knowledge and shaping practitioners themselves. In short, practice is important not only for its direct role in knowledge production, but for its role in shaping the producers of knowledge as individuals and communities.