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The method of historical case studies: a phylogenetic approachThe use of historical case studies in philosophical theorizing about science is inherently problematic: single cases are claimed to be representative of large parts of science. On the face of it, such inferences are entirely ungrounded. Nevertheless, it seems that similar inferences are not only possible, but even routine in many parts of the biological sciences: geneticists, for instance, successfully reason from very limited sets of organisms to indefinitely many. In this paper we explore whether the philosophical use of historical case studies could work analogously to the use of model organisms in biology.
Centre for Science Studies, Depart. of Mathematics
History and Philosophy of Science
University of Cambridge