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Multiple Independent Inventions of a Non-Functional Technology: Combinatorial Descriptive Names in Botany, 1640-1830

Scharf, Sara (2009) Multiple Independent Inventions of a Non-Functional Technology: Combinatorial Descriptive Names in Botany, 1640-1830. Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science, 2 (1). ISSN 1913-0465

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Abstract

Historians and sociologists of science usually discuss multiple independent inventions or multiple independent discoveries in terms of priority disputes among the inventors. But what should we make of the multiple invention of a technology that not only gave rise to very few priority disputes, but never worked and was rejected by each inventor’s contemporaries as soon as it was made public? This paper examines seven such situations in the history of botany. I devote particular attention to the inventors’ cultural and educational backgrounds, in particular, the scholastic education most of them shared, through which they would have become familiar with Llullian combinatorics and the mnemonic names used to distinguish syllogistic moods. I also examine their conceptions of the roles of nomenclature in botany, their assumptions about how memory works, their awareness of other similar efforts, and their contemporaries’ reactions to their proposals. Finally, I reflect on the impacts that a consideration of multiple independent inventions of failed technologies may have on current approaches to the history and sociology of science.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Scharf, Sara
Keywords: Scientific Realism; Epistemic Issues; Epistemology of Science
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Jordan Miller
Date Deposited: 12 Sep 2021 03:32
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2021 03:32
Item ID: 17965
Journal or Publication Title: Spontaneous Generations: A Journal for the History and Philosophy of Science
Publisher: The University of Toronto
Official URL: https://spontaneousgenerations.library.utoronto.ca...
DOI or Unique Handle: https://doi.org/10.4245/sponge.v2i1.3552
Subjects: General Issues > Scientific Metaphysics
General Issues > History of Philosophy of Science
General Issues > Realism/Anti-realism
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 26 January 2009
Volume: 2
Number: 1
ISSN: 1913-0465
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/17965

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