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New paper by Schindler on Lakatos's meta-philosophy

forthcoming in the Centenary Volume on Lakatos (Synthese Library)

Beyond footnotes: Lakatos’s meta-philosophy and the history of science


This paper revisits Lakatos’s meta-philosophy concerning the use of historical facts for the purpose of philosophical theorizing about science. Despite Lakatos’s bad reputation on that question – which mostly springs from his suggestion that the actual history could be detailed in the footnotes of texts of rational reconstructions of science – Lakatos in fact had quite reasonable things to say about the meta-philosophy of science. In particular, Lakatos’s writings contain the idea that any philosophical methodology of science should aim at the maximization of rationally explainable facts, albeit without pretence to ever be able to explain all historical facts as rational. I will discuss this idea in the light of the contemporary meta-philosophical literature. Finally, the paper argues with Kuhn that there are many unappreciated analogies between Kuhn’s and Lakatos’s accounts of science and that Lakatos’s account is, contrary to what Lakatos himself claimed, not more rational than Kuhn’s, even by Lakatos’s own meta-philosophical criteria.