Contemporary historical epistemology. An analytical review of research directions

Lada V. Shipo­val­o­va
Saint Peters­burg Uni­ver­si­ty

Con­tem­po­rary his­tor­i­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy. An ana­lyt­i­cal review of research direc­tions

Abstract. The arti­cle ana­lyzes the mod­ern his­tor­i­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy as a top­i­cal research direc­tion of schol­ar activ­i­ties in his­tor­i­cal con­text. It emerged at the end of the 20th cen­tu­ry and is asso­ci­at­ed with the names of L. Das­ton, P. Gal­i­son, H.-J. Rhein­berg­er, Y. Renn, B. Latour, I. Hack­ing and oth­ers. The analy­sis includes three main sec­tions. In the first sec­tion, the author dis­tin­guish­es with­in the research field dif­fer­ent ver­sions of his­tor­i­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy. In the sec­ond sec­tion, the author clar­i­fies the con­texts of the emer­gence of mod­ern his­tor­i­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy as well as its struc­ture, which deter­mines the diver­si­ty of spe­cif­ic top­ics. There are five con­texts described: the his­tor­i­cal, the inter­dis­ci­pli­nary, the non-clas­si­cal epis­te­molo­gies, the onto­log­i­cal and the prac­tice turn con­texts. There are four the­mat­ic areas dis­tin­guished: the his­to­ry of epis­temic con­cepts, the his­to­ry of sci­en­tif­ic objects, the macro and micro his­to­ry of sci­ence and the his­to­ry of styles of sci­en­tif­ic think­ing. In the third sec­tion, the author describes the prob­lems of mod­ern his­tor­i­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy, among which are con­tex­tu­al issues deter­min­ing the place of con­tem­po­rary his­tor­i­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy in cur­rent dis­cus­sions, and reflex­ive issues asso­ci­at­ed with the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, inter­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty, and con­sid­er­a­tion of the basic prin­ci­ples of this research direc­tion. As a result, the author sug­gests treat­ing the mod­ern his­tor­i­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy as an open project.

Key­words: his­to­ry of sci­ence, phi­los­o­phy of sci­ence, non-clas­si­cal epis­te­mol­o­gy, prac­tice turn.



The arti­cle is writ­ten with sup­port of Russ­ian Foun­da­tion for Basic Research, project 18–311-00282 “Ratio­nal­i­ty in the Human­i­ties: the­o­ret­i­cal con­tro­ver­sies and dis­ci­pli­nary prac­tice”.


  1. Alvar­gon­za­lez, D. Is the His­to­ry of Sci­ence Essen­tial­ly Whig­gish? His­to­ry of Sci­ence, 2013, vol. 51, no.1, pp. 85–99. DOI: 10.1177/007327531305100104.
  2. Ara­batzis, T., Howard, D. Intro­duc­tion: Inte­grat­ed His­to­ry and Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence in Prac­tice, Stud­ies in His­to­ry and Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence, 2015, no. 50, pp. 1–3. DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2014.10.002.
  3. Bachelard, G. The For­ma­tion of the Sci­en­tif­ic Mind. Man­ches­ter: Cli­na­men Press Ltd, 2006. 266 pp.
  4. Biogra­phies of Sci­en­tif­ic Objects / ed. by L. Das­ton. Chica­go, Lon­don: The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press, 2000. 308 pp.
  5. Bren­ner, A. Is There a Cul­tur­al Bar­ri­er Between His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy and Ana­lyt­ic Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence? Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies in the Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence, 2015, vol. 29, iss. 2, pp. 201–214. DOI: 10.1080/02698595.2015.1119421.
  6. Can­guil­hem, G. Ide­ol­o­gy and Ratio­nal­i­ty in the His­to­ry of the Life Sci­ences. Lon­don: MIT Press, 1988. 160 pp.
  7. Cartwright, N. How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford: Claren­don Press; New York: Oxford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1983. 221 pp.
  8. Das­ton, L., Gal­i­son, P. Objec­tiv­i­ty. New York: Zone Books, 2007. 501 pp.
  9. David­son, A.I. The Emer­gence of Sex­u­al­i­ty: His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy and the For­ma­tion of Con­cepts. Cam­bridge: Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2002. 272 pp.
  10. Dmitriev, I.S. Iskushe­nie svy­ato­go Koperni­ka: nenauch­nye korni nauch­noi revolyut­sii [The Temp­ta­tion of Saint Coper­ni­cus: Non-Sci­en­tif­ic Roots of the Sci­en­tif­ic Rev­o­lu­tion]. Saint Peters­burg: SPb­SU Publ., 2006. 278 pp. (In Russ­ian)
  11. Feest, U., Sturm, T. What (Good) Is His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy? Erken­nt­nis, 2011, vol. 75, no 3, pp. 285–302.
  12. Fou­cault, M. The Arche­ol­o­gy of Knowl­edge / transl. by A.M. Sheri­dan Smith. New York: Pan­theon Books, 1972. 246 pp.
  13. Gal­i­son, P. Ten Prob­lems in His­to­ry and Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence, Isis, 2008, vol. 99, no 1, pp. 111–125.
  14. Gavrilenko, S.M. Istorich­eska­ia epis­te­mologiya: Zona neo­pre­de­len­nos­ti i pros­transt­vo teo­retich­esko­go voo­brazheni­ia [His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy: Zone of Uncer­tain­ty and Space for The­o­ret­i­cal Imag­i­na­tion], Epis­te­mol­o­gy & Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence, 2017, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 20–28. DOI: 10.5840/eps201752224. (In Russ­ian)
  15. Gin­gras, Y. Nam­ing with­out Neces­si­ty. On the Geneal­o­gy and Uses of the Label “His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy”, Revue de Syn­thèse, 2010, vol. 131, iss. 3, pp. 439–454. DOI: 10.1007/s11873-010‑0124-1.
  16. Hack­ing, I. His­tor­i­cal Ontol­ogy. Cam­bridge, MA: Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2002. 288 pp.
  17. Hack­ing, I. Rep­re­sent­ing and Inter­ven­ing. Cam­bridge: Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1983. 304 pp.
  18. Hack­ing, I. The Emer­gence of Prob­a­bil­i­ty. Cam­bridge: Cam­bridge Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1975. 246 pp.
  19. His­to­ry and Epis­te­mol­o­gy: From Bachelard and Can­guil­hem to Today’s His­to­ry of Sci­ence. Max Planck Insti­tute for the His­to­ry of Sci­ence. 2012 Con­fer­ence. Preprint 434. Avail­able at: (accessed on Octo­ber 14, 2018).
  20. Kasavin, I.T. Tra­dit­sii i inter­pre­tat­sii: frag­men­ty istorich­eskoi epis­te­mologii [Tra­di­tions and Inter­pre­ta­tions: Frag­ments of His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy]. Saint Peters­burg: RCHI, 2000. 320 pp. (In Russ­ian)
  21. Kmi­ta, J. Prob­lems in His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy. Dor­drecht: Springer, 1988. 194 pp.
  22. Kusch, M. Reflex­iv­i­ty, Rel­a­tivism, Micro­his­to­ry: Three Desider­a­ta for His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­molo­gies, Erken­nt­nis, 2011, vol. 75, iss. 3, pp. 483–494.
  23. Kuznetso­va, N.I. Prezen­tizm i antik­varizm – dve kartiny proshl­o­go [Pre­sen­tism and Anti­quar­ism – Two Pic­tures of the Past], Arbor Mun­di, 2009, no. 15, pp. 164–196. (In Russ­ian)
  24. Kukartze­va, М.А. Istorich­eskaya jepis­te­mologiya ver­sus sot­sial­naya. Obzor angloy­azy­ch­nyh izdanij [His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy Ver­sus Social. Review of Eng­lish Edi­tions], Epis­te­mol­o­gy & Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence, 2007, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 87–99. (In Russ­ian)
  25. Kwa, C. Styles of Know­ing: A New His­to­ry of Sci­ence from Ancient Times to the Present. Pitts­burgh: Uni­ver­si­ty of Pitts­burgh Press, 2011. 367 pp.
  26. Latour, B. Do Sci­en­tif­ic Objects Have a His­to­ry? Paster and White­head in a Bath of Lac­tic Acid, Com­mon Knowl­edge, 1999, no 5, pp. 76–91.
  27. Nasim, O. Was ist his­torische Epis­te­molo­gie? In: Nach Feier­abend / M. Hag­n­er, C. Hirschi. Zurich, Berlin: Diaphanes. 2013, pp. 123–144.
  28. Pick­er­ing, A. The Man­gle of Prac­tice: Time, Agency and Sci­ence. Chica­go: The Uni­ver­si­ty of Chica­go Press, 1995. 296 pp.
  29. Posi­tion­ing the His­to­ry of Sci­ence / ed. by K. Gavroglu, J. Renn. Dor­drecht: Springer, 2007. 188 pp.
  30. Renn, J. His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy and Inter­dis­ci­pli­nar­i­ty, in: Physics, Phi­los­o­phy and the Sci­en­tif­ic Com­mu­ni­ty / ed. by K. Gavroglu et al. Dor­drecht: Kluw­er, 1995, pp. 241–251.
  31. Renn, J. His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy and the Advance­ment of Sci­ence. Max-Planck-Insti­tut für Wis­senschafts­geschichte, Preprint 36. Berlin: Max-Planck-Insti­tut für Wis­senschafts­geschichte, 1996. Avail­able at: (accessed on Octo­ber 14, 2018).
  32. Rhein­berg­er, H.-J. A Plea for a His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy of Research, Jour­nal for Gen­er­al Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence, 2012, vol. 43, iss. 1, pp. 105–111. DOI: 10.1007/s10838-012‑9183-3.
  33. Rhein­berg­er, H.-J. On His­tori­ciz­ing Epis­te­mol­o­gy: An Essay / transl. by D. Fern­bach. Stan­ford: Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 2010. 128 pp.
  34. Rhein­berg­er, H.-J. Towards a His­to­ry of Epis­temic Things. Stan­ford: Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1997. 326 pp.
  35. Riesch, H. Phi­los­o­phy, His­to­ry and Soci­ol­o­gy of Sci­ence: Inter­dis­ci­pli­nary, Stud­ies in His­to­ry and Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence, 2014, no. 48, pp. 30–37.
  36. Shapin, S., Schaf­fer, S. Leviathan and the Air-Pump. Prince­ton: Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty Press, 1985. 448 pp.
  37. Sokolo­va, L.Y. Istorich­eska­ja jepis­te­mologiya vo Frantsii [His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy in France]. Saint Peters­burg: SPb­SU, 1995. 136 pp. (In Russ­ian)
  38. Sokolo­va, T.D. Zachem tak uslozh­ny­at [Why so Com­pli­cat­ed], Epis­te­mol­o­gy & Phi­los­o­phy of Sci­ence, 2017, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 47–51. DOI: 10.5840/eps201752228. (In Russ­ian)
  39. Sto­liaro­va, O.E. Podrazumevaet li istorich­eskaya jepis­te­mologiya istorich­eskuyu ontologiyu? [Does His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy Imply His­tor­i­cal Ontol­ogy?], Vest­nik of Saint Peters­burg Uni­ver­si­ty. Phi­los­o­phy and Con­flict Stud­ies, 2018, vol. 34, iss. 3, pp. 369–380. (In Russ­ian)
  40. Sturm, T. His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy or His­to­ry of Epis­te­mol­o­gy? The Case of the Rela­tion between Per­cep­tion and Judg­ment: Ded­i­cat­ed to Gün­ther Patzig on his 85th birth­day, Erken­nt­nis, 2011, vol. 75, iss. 3, pp. 303–324.
  41. The Black­well Guide to Epis­te­mol­o­gy / ed. by J. Gre­co, E. Sosa. Oxford: Black­well. 1999. 464 pp.
  42. The Glob­al­iza­tion of Knowl­edge in His­to­ry / ed. by J. Renn, Berlin: Max Planck Insti­tute, 2012. 854 pp.
  43. The Prac­tice Turn in Con­tem­po­rary The­o­ry / ed. by T. Schatz­ki et al. New York, Lon­don: Rout­ledge, 2001. 252 pp.
  44. Things that Talk: Object Lessons from Art and Sci­ence / ed. by L. Das­ton. New York: Zone Books, 2008. 448 pp.
  45. Trub­niko­va, N.V. Mod­ern His­tor­i­cal Epis­te­mol­o­gy through the Prism of Paul Ricoeur’ Trans­ac­tions, in: SHS Web of Con­fer­ences. Les Ulis: EDP Sci­ences, 2016, vol. 28: Research Par­a­digms Trans­for­ma­tion in Social Sci­ences (RPTSS 2015). [01140, 4 p.].
  46. Vark­ho­tov, T.A. Objek­tivnost “objek­tivnos­ti”: isto­ri­ogra­fich­eskaya mod­el L. Das­ton i P. Gal­isona i epis­te­mo­logich­eskaya istoriya nau­ki [Objec­tiv­i­ty of “Objec­tiv­i­ty”: the His­to­ri­o­graph­ic Mod­el L. Das­ton and P. Gal­i­son and the Epis­te­mo­log­i­cal His­to­ry of Sci­ence], Uchenye Zapis­ki Krym­sko­go Fed­er­alno­go Uni­ver­site­ta imeni V.I. Ver­nad­sko­go. Filosofiya, Poli­tologiya, Kul­tur­ologiya, 2018, vol. 4(40), no. 3, pp. 3–13. (In Russ­ian)
  47. Wartof­sky, M. Epis­te­mol­o­gy His­torised, in: A. Shi­mo­ny, D. Nails (eds.), Nat­u­ral­is­tic Epis­te­mol­o­gy. Dor­drecht: Rei­del, 1987, pp. 357–374.
  48. Wartof­sky, M. Mod­els: Rep­re­sen­ta­tion and the Sci­en­tif­ic Under­stand­ing. Dor­drecht: Springer, 1979. 398 pp.

Comments are closed.