AHS  Vol.4 No.2 , April 2015
The Shaping of Inquiry: Histories of the Exact Sciences after the Practical Turn
ABSTRACT
In this paper I examine three emergent trends in praxis-oriented historiography that have underpinned historical studies of the exact sciences covering the period from 1750 to 1960. The first of these refers to what I call “tradition-centred” histories of scientific practice. This approach focuses on the formation of “cultures of practice” characterized by distinctive epistemic s, which distinguish them from other such cultures. The second involves “tool-centred” histories of practice. This approach focuses on the way in which tools and techniques of inquiry open up new fields of inquiry, and the way in which the crafting of new tools and the refashioning of existing ones shape the dynamics of scientific practice. The third approach I examine relates to “actor-centred” histories, which typically take the form of biographical accounts focusing on the motivations, judgments and choices of individuals that shape scientific inquiry. This provide a useful analytic framework, in piecing together a broad picture of the different ways in which scientific inquiry is shaped and structured, and to see more clearly how different historiographical approaches complement one another in enriching our understanding of scientific practice.

Cite this paper
Camilleri, K. (2015) The Shaping of Inquiry: Histories of the Exact Sciences after the Practical Turn. Advances in Historical Studies, 4, 68-84. doi: 10.4236/ahs.2015.42008.
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