Call for Papers: Pursuit 2021

We are soliciting papers for a special issue in Studies of History and Philosophy of Science on the topic “Pursuitworthiness in Scientific Inquiry”. The special issue will be co-edited by Dunja Šešelja (TU Eindhoven) and Jamie Shaw (University of Toronto).

Deadline for submissions: May 1, 2021

The topic of pursuitworthiness in scientific inquiry received a lot of attention throughout the last decades of the 20th century. While this theme draws its roots from Peirce’s ‘economy of research’ and discussions that followed Reichenbach’s distinction between the context of discovery and the context of justification, pursuitworthiness became an explicit topic of philosophical accounts in the post-Kuhnian literature. Starting from Laudan’s (1977) ‘context of pursuit’, to McMullin’s (1976) ‘heuristic appraisal’, to Anne-Whitt’s (1992) ‘indices of theory-promise’ different accounts aimed at explicating ways of evaluating the promising character of scientific inquiry. The importance of distinguishing the ‘comparative evaluation of problem-solving efficiency and promise’ and the ‘evaluation of completed research’ (Nickles 1980) remained central to subsequent philosophical debates: from discussions on the role of values in scientific research, to the literature on scientific pluralism, to debates concerning particular controversies in empirical sciences, to epistemological discussions on the norms underlying the process of inquiry – to mention only some examples.

Even though the topic of pursuitworthiness continues to play a central role in contemporary philosophical debates, its treatment remains scattered across different problem-fields. Whether we are tackling the pursuitworthiness of theoretical frameworks such as string theory in physics, projects concerning the risks and safety from a future artificial intelligence, exploratory models in biomedical sciences, or highly idealized models in social sciences, several issues remain constant across these debates. With this volume, we aim to bring these discussions together and provide an overview of the current outlooks on the pursuitworthiness in various scientific inquiries. At the same time, we aim to reexamine the actuality of the traditional philosophical accounts in face of novel problems and challenges. Altogether, we welcome submissions on:

  • questions about the distinctive epistemic norms operative in the assessment of pursuitworthiness in various scientific disciplines
  • formal approaches to the assessment of pursuitworthiness
  • the pursuitworthiness of different epistemic units (such as hypotheses, models, theories, research programs, epistemic objects, etc.)
  • the role of values in the context of pursuit
  • the relevance of traditional accounts of pursuitworthiness in contemporary philosophical debates, etc.

Please submit your paper via the Editorial Manager (VSI: Pursuitworthiness in Science), prepared for anonymous review by May 1, 2021. The manuscript should not exceed 10,000 words.

Please let one of us know if you have any questions (,