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Gerd Buchdahl, Kantian philosopher of science

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Following a brief account of his career, Nick Jardine will sketch Gerd Buchdahl’s philosophy of science or, in his terms, ‘transcendental methodology of science’. This is outlined in his Tarner Lectures of 1973 (typescript in Whipple Library), which, despite many revisions, remained incomplete and unpublished. Particular attention will be paid to aspects of Buchdahl’s transcendental methodology that seem of particular current interest: his pluralist view of sciences, with their various empirical, structural and explanatory components often having distinct historical trajectories; and his emphasis on the roles of imagery in all forms of inquiry, as shown in his motto ‘argument be damned, it’s the picture that counts’.

Angela Breitenbach will then elaborate on the second of these aspects in her discussion of Buchdahl’s legacy in Kantian philosophy of science. She will show how his interpretation of Kant was instrumental in giving regulative principles centre stage and will discuss some of the lasting challenges his reading raises regarding the role of reason, judgment and imagination in science.

This talk is part of the Departmental Seminars in History and Philosophy of Science series.

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