Redefinitions of a Discipline: Histories of Geology and Geological History View Full Text


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Chapter Info

DATE

1983

AUTHORS

Rachel Laudan

ABSTRACT

Periods of rapid theory change or ‘revolutions’ in science are apt to spur the scientists involved to write new histories of the discipline, and revolutions in geology are no exception. Two major episodes of historical writing by Anglo-Saxon geologists have been associated with revolutions in the discipline, namely Charles Lyell’s uniformitarianism and recent plate tectonics (1). The most influential early nineteenth-century history of geology in English is Charles Lyell’s introduction to his classic Principles of Geology (1830–1833) (2). The Principles was the work that ushered in the ‘uniformitarian-catastrophist’ debates, and that was identified later by Kuhn as a geological paradigm. Lyell intended his history to form an integral part of the definition and articulation of the uniformitarian position which he thought was the sole means of making geology scientific. Uniformitarianism, as a geological tradition is thus inextricably bound up with Lyell’s interpretation of the history of geology. In recent years, new histories and historical anthologies have documented the origins and triumphs of ‘plate tectonic’ theory, which has dominated geology since the mid-1960s. In order to structure their interpretation of this plate tectonic ‘revolution’, contemporary geologists have fastened on Kuhn’s account of scientific change (albeit a dramatically transformed version of Kuhn’s model as I shall show) (3). More... »

PAGES

79-104

References to SciGraph publications

Book

TITLE

Functions and Uses of Disciplinary Histories

ISBN

978-90-277-1521-0
978-94-009-7035-9

Author Affiliations

Identifiers

URI

http://scigraph.springernature.com/pub.10.1007/978-94-009-7035-9_4

DOI

http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/978-94-009-7035-9_4

DIMENSIONS

https://app.dimensions.ai/details/publication/pub.1041955072


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