Since the 1990’s, few have attempted to formulate general theories of scientific change like those proposed by Fleck, Kuhn, Lakatos, and Laudan. The quest for such a theory seems to have been abandoned due to a growing awareness that science’s history was far more diverse, and employed far more methods, than general theories of scientific change could account for. For an increasing number of scholars, however, this historical and sociological data is not an obstacle to the search for a theory of scientific change. Rather it is an opportunity to craft a more nuanced theory that would explain how our theories and methods of their evaluation change through time. Such a theory must be historical rather than whiggish, and descriptive rather than normative. Developing such a theory of scientific change is in line with the growing interest in Integrated History and Philosophy of Science, Social Epistemology, and Cognitive Historiography.
Founded in 2015 in Toronto, the Scientonomy community is dedicated to constructing such a theory of scientific change with the hope of establishing an empirical science of science, which we called scientonomy (sorry, but scientology was taken). This dedication entails an openness to new historical evidence concerning the dynamics of theories, questions, and methods and a deep respect for critique. It also entails a commitment to a novel iterative workflow that is geared towards the communal advancement of the scientonomic theory in a piecemeal and transparent fashion. So far the Scientonomy community has produced an online encyclopedia to document the development of the scientonomic theory, and a peer-reviewed journal to invite and archive proposed modifications to the scientonomic theory. The community has begun planning and advocating for an online database of intellectual history, the Tree of Knowledge. These undertakings have revealed new challenges and opportunities for a science of science.
The goal of scientonomy workshops and conferences is to bring together scholars studying various aspects of the process of scientific change and discuss some of the contentious open modifications, formulate new questions, and brainstorm possible answers.