Theories of Rationality in the History of Science

Theories of Rationality in the History of Science

Olaf Engler, Jürgen Renn

Other involved Scholars: 

Dieter Hoffmann, Giora Hon, Friedrich Stadler and Gereon Wolters

Cooperation Partners: 

Institute Vienna Circle, University of Vienna, Moritz Schlick Gesamtausgabe, University of Rostock and Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Hamburg


Hans Reichenbach to Moritz Schlick, Stuttgart, October 17, 1920 © Vienna Circle Foundation Amsterdam

Toward the beginning of the twentieth century, different theories of rationality emerged as a result of the reflection on science in the making. Investigations focus on the understanding of the genesis and development of these various theories of rationality as embedded within their specific historical contexts. This undertaking includes the attempt to explore the tensions between the different approaches to science, such as the philosophy, history, and sociology of science, but more recently also their integration within the framework of the concepts and methods of a historical epistemology.

One core area of the project is the survey of source materials on the history of the relation between the history and philosophy of science in the twentieth century. In this context, the final two volumes of the Hans Reichenbach Gesammelte Schriften are being prepared for publication with Springer Wien/New York. These volumes contain papers from Reichenbach’s entire productive period, supplemented by detailed introductions and historico-critical comments.

Alongside these volumes, a commented edition of Reichenbach’s extensive correspondence is being prepared for publication as part of the Edition Open Access. Similarly, as part of the Moritz Schlick Gesamtausgabe, substantive research has been invested in studying and editing Schlick’s writings on relativity theory and quantum physics. Ongoing activities include the publication of selected parts of the literary estate of Moritz Schlick and Hans Reichenbach through the ECHO platform.

Within the scope of this project, a new edition of Die Mechanik in ihrer Entwicklung. Historisch-kritisch dargestellt was also published (Giora Hon, Gereon Wolters). Three further volumes, Mach’s Optics, as well as collections of writings on physics and on history and philosophy of science, are currently in preparation. Looking ahead, an agreement for further cooperation with the Institute Vienna Circle (Friedrich Stadler) has been secured.