The French Roots of Duhem’s early Historiography and Epistemology

Stefano Bordoni


Pierre Duhem can be looked upon as one of the heirs of a tradition of historical and philosophical researches that flourished in the second half of the nineteenth century. This tradition opposed the naïve historiography and epistemology of the positivist school. Beside the positivists of different leanings such as Littré, Laffitte, Wyrouboff, and Berthelot, we find Cournot, Naville, and Tannery, who developed sophisticated histories and philosophies of science focusing on the real scientific practice and its history. They unfolded elements of continuity and discontinuity in the history of science, and enlightened the complex relationship among experimental, mathematical, logical and philosophical components in scientific practice. In Pierre Duhem we find a systematic and vivid interpretation of these meta-theoretical issues, and a meaningful development of a cultural tradition that re-emerged in the second half of the twentieth century.


Pierre Duhem; historiography; epistemology; experimental practice; theoretical practice; continuism - discontinuism

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ISSN: 2526-2270

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