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The Common Notion. Science and Consensus in the Seventeenth Century

Project description

The history of scientific consensus in the 17th century

Seventeenth-century natural philosophy is under the spotlight. The ERC-funded NOTCOM project will explore the common notions, collective inquiry and public dissemination strategies of natural science in the 17th century. While researchers have studied the sociology and history of philosophy of science, the role of epistemological consensus models has received little attention. As a historical study of what is today referred to as ‘scientific consensus’, NOTCOM considers consensus formation to be historically structured. It represents those shared assumptions that in any given scientific debate are put aside as non-controversial. NOTCOM explores a combination of four dimensions – consensus models, collective methods, dissemination strategies, and actuality – to achieve an understanding of contemporary uses of writing this history.

Objective

NOTCOM is a philosophical study of common notions, collective inquiry, and dissemination strategies in seventeenth-century natural science, with special focus on the role of so-called “common notions.” Using a ground-breaking transversal methodology, it studies: (1) epistemological models of consensus as they emerged from early modern controversies in logic, rhetoric, moral philosophy, theology and law, and how they were re-deployed within natural philosophy; (2) methods of collective inquiry in early modern natural philosophy; (3) the role of consensus models and methods of collective inquiry in the public dissemination of early modern natural philosophy; (4) the actuality of early modern consensus models and methods of collective inquiry in relation to current philosophy of science and science communication studies. Early modern collective scientific practices have, over the last half century, provided a rich field of study for the sociology and history of philosophy of science. Little attention has, however, been paid to the role that epistemological models of consensus played for the methods governing those practices. Yet the period produced a wealth of such models, often in the context of doctrines of common notions, which informed natural philosophical methods of collective inquiry in myriad ways. These methods were moreover inextricably wound up with complex strategies for the broader public dissemination of science. Some of these, models, methods, and dissemination strategies still have purchase today. More importantly, however, writing their history offers a narrative about philosophy, science, and society with a didactic potential that merits exploration. Combining these four dimensions—consensus models, collective methods, dissemination strategies, and actuality—NOTCOM thus explores the historical background to the current notion of “scientific consensus” and the contemporary uses of writing this history.

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Coordinator

CENTRE NATIONAL DE LA RECHERCHE SCIENTIFIQUE CNRS
Net EU contribution
€ 2 231 411,50
Address
Rue michel ange 3
75794 Paris
France

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Region
Ile-de-France Ile-de-France Paris
Activity type
Research Organisations
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Other funding
€ 0,00

Participants (1)