CFP – 9th International Workshop on Historical Epistemology: The Historical Epistemology of Scientific Styles (Venice, 27-28 June 2024)

Call for papers

9th International Workshop on Historical Epistemology

The Historical Epistemology of Scientific Styles

Venice, 27-28 June 2024



Presentation of the research network

This Workshop is the 9th edition of the annual meeting of the International Research Network on the History and Methods of Historical Epistemology. This network, founded in 2015, currently brings together 80 members from different countries, whose work is related to historical epistemology in a broad sense. It thus welcomes specialists in French epistemology of the xx century as well as people who have contributed to the renewal of historical epistemology under the impulse of members of the Max Planck Institute in the history of science. The objective of the activities of this network is not so much to separate historical epistemology radically from other studies of science, but rather to create a dialogue between different philosophical studies on the history of knowledge that pay particular attention to the conditions of emergence of scientific disciplines and their objects.

Each edition of the Workshop focuses on a specific theme. The previous edition, held in Dijon, was dedicated to the philosophy of environmental sciences. The former ones focused on the following themes: “Arts and Sciences, Historicizing Boundaries” (2022), “Historical Epistemology and Epistemology of History” (2020), “The Philosophy of Life Sciences: historical epistemology of biology and medicine” (2019), “Historical epistemology and the disunity of science” (2018), “For an historical epistemology of technological transformations” (2017), “A history of the present” (2016); “Historical epistemology: beginnings and current issues” (2015). The programs and arguments of the previous editions can be found at

Presentation of the 2024 edition on scientific styles

The 2024 edition of the workshop will also be the closing event of the EPISTYLE project “Style Matters: Scientific Pluralism and its Early-Modern Sources”, led by Matteo Vagelli under the supervision of Hasok Chang, Peter Galison and Marco Sgarbi since 2021. It will invite network members to contribute to the reflections on the key questions of the EPISTYLE project: “what happened to the traditional concept of style when it was migrated from rhetoric and the arts to the fields of history and philosophy of science? Where does the idea of different ‘styles’ of knowing come from, and how did the idea of an historically evolving plurality of standards of scientific inquiry emerge? To what extent do the objects of the sciences owe their existence to the styles that have enabled them to emerge and rendered them thinkable?”. For a presentation of the EPISTYLE project and its past activities see epistyle.

At different times and in different contexts, the notion of ‘style’ has been linked to knowledge and science (e.g. Fleck 1935, Daston-Otte 1991; Crombie 1994; Hacking 1982, 1992; Davidson 2001; Bredekamp-Schneider-Dünkel 2015; see Vicedo 1995, Gayon 1999, Sciortino 2023). Philosophers, historians, sociologists and scientists have made appeal to this notion generally in order to highlight the plurality and historicity of scientific ‘ways of thinking’. Since the 1970s, ‘style’ became involved in the so-called ‘pluralist turn’ in history and philosophy of science. (e.g. Ruphy 2017; see Vagelli 2024)

In contrast with the contemporary prevalence of empirically oriented micro-histories, styles of reasoning have been recognized as part of attempts at thinking up new forms of ‘big picture’ histories of science: “not as grand linear narratives, but as multi-levelled accounts of the conditions that made different kinds of science possible.” (Elwick 2012) In this light, a comparative anthropology of non-Western ‘styles of inquiry’ (e.g. Lloyd 2004) and an ‘ecological history’ of human reason have also been undertaken. (e.g. Hacking 2012)

This workshop is motivated by the question of whether ‘scientific styles’, variously defined, can be an object for historical epistemology. We will start by investigating the relation that a history of ‘scientific styles’ entertains with ‘classical’ historical epistemologies by Gaston Bachelard and Georges Canguilhem, for instance, or with Michel Foucault’s archaeological and genealogical models of historiography. Do these different approaches resonate with one another and to what extent? For example, Gilles-Gaston Granger’s use of the concept of style could be compared with later uses of the concept by Hacking. (Granger 1968)

The historical and epistemological underpinnings as well as the historiographic consequences of the notion of “style” will be at the center of the 9th Workshop on Historical Epistemology. We hope the discussion will be a moment for philosophers, historians and sociologists of science to encounter scholars with different methodological approaches. In particular, we expect contributions falling along one or more of the following five axes:

  1. Rediscovering ‘styles’: Who (why, when, and where) contributed to the idea of science and knowledge being characterized by one or more styles of thinking and doing? The workshop encourages further study of both better known as well as relatively neglected or uncharted sources for the idea of ‘styles’ in science. These can be found, especially, but not exclusively, in the work of philosophers, historians, sociologists, as well as in that by scientists themselves.
  2. A history of scientific ‘styles’: Is ‘style’ equally apt to account for continuity and discontinuity in the history of science and knowledge? Is it only meant to highlight the relativity of ‘styles of thinking’ or can it also be constructed in order to be able to account for progress in science? To what extent does the style-concept allow the mapping and refined analysis of emerging forms of science, such as those underpinning, for instance, artificial intelligence and the environmental sciences?
  3. ‘Styles’ from within/from without: What is the relation between ‘styles’ and their exteriority? Can the demarcation problem be rephrased through the notion of ‘style’? What makes a style of reasoning ‘scientific’ and what is the relation between scientific and ‘non-scientific’ styles (i.e. both literary, artistic, religious and ordinary or common-sense styles)? Can forms of knowledge ‘from below’, ‘citizen science’ or ‘community science’ be conceived of as ‘research styles’ in their own terms? What does the adoption of a given ‘style’ of inquiry imply on the level of the shaping of the scientific-selves? Can not only a history of forms of objectivity, but also of forms of subjectivities be told from the perspective of scientific styles?
  4. Social epistemology of ‘styles’: Since Fleck (1935), sociological analyses of scientific styles have played an important role in science studies. (e.g. Harwood 1993; Hunger-Seebacher-Holzer 2010) Moving from this background, and taking stock of the more recent acquisitions of STS approaches, we would like to raise the question as to what role does the intersubjective and collective dimension of ‘style’ play in the establishment, success and/or failure of given forms of investigation? What are the social conditions and larger implications of scientific ‘styles’? Is the talk of ‘national styles’ in science still relevant today? Is a ‘stylistic’ inquiry of science capable of capturing the institutional aspects and the power-dynamics at stake in the production of knowledge?
  5. Alternative concepts to styles: What is the added value (if any) of an analysis of knowledge and science conducted in ‘stylistic’ terms? What does the word and the concept of “style” add (if anything) to concepts such as ‘methods’, ‘ways of knowing’, or ‘research programmes’? What are the blind spots and presuppositions of the concept of style? What objections can be addressed to approaches that use this concept, from the perspective of philosophy, history and sociology of science?

Proposals (500 words plus a short presentation of the candidate) must be sent by April 15, 2024 (notification of acceptance or refusal will be sent by April 31), in .doc format, to The workshop will be conducted in English.


Bredekamp H., Schneider B. and Dünkel, V. eds. 2015. The Technical Image: A History of Styles in Scientific Imagery. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Crombie, A. C. 1994. Styles of scientific thinking in the European tradition: The history of argument and explanation especially in the mathematical and biomedical sciences and arts (Vol. 3). London: Duckworth.

Daston, L. and Otte, M. eds. 1991. Style in Science, special issue of Science in Context, vol. 4, no 2.

Davidson, A. 2001. The emergence of sexuality: Historical epistemology and the formation of concepts. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Elwick, J. 2012. Layered History: Styles of Reasoning as Stratified Conditions of Possibility. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, Part Special Issue: Styles of Thinking, 43, no. 4 (December 1, 2012): 619–27.

Fleck, L. 1935 [1979]. Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.                          

Gayon, J. 1999, On the uses of the category of style in the history of science. Philosophy & Rhetoric 32/3: 233-246.                                                 

Granger, G.-G. 1968. Essai d’une philosophie du style. Philosophies pour l’âge de la science. Paris: A. Colin.

Hacking, I. 1982. Language, truth and reason. In M. Hollis & S. Lukes (Eds.), Rationality and relativism (pp. 48–66). Oxford: Blackwell.

Hacking, I. 1992. ‘Style’ for historians and for philosophers. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 23(1), 1–20.

Hacking, I. 2012. Language, truth and reason thirty years later. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 43: 599–609.

Harwood, J. 1993. Styles of Thought. The German Genetics Community 1900-1933. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Hunger, H., Seebacher, F. and Holzer, G. eds. 2010. Styles of Thinking in Science and Technology. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference of the European Society for the History of Science, Vienna, VÖAW Verlag. Lloyd, G. 2004. Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture. Oxford University Press.

Ruphy, S. 2017. Scientific Pluralism Reconsidered. A New Approach to the (Dis)unity of Science. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Sciortino, L. 2023. History of Rationalities. Ways of Thinking from Vico to Hacking and Beyond. Cham: Palgrave MacMillan.

Vagelli, M. 2024. Styles of Science and the Pluralist Turn: Between Inclusion and Exclusion. Revue de synthèse 145(7), 3/4: DOI: 10.1163/19552343-14234053

Vicedo, M. 1995. Scientific Styles: Toward Some Common Ground in the History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science. Perspectives on Science 3/2: 231-5.

This workshop is organized by:

Épistémologie Historique. Research Network on the History and the Methods of Historical Epistemology

With the support of:

  • Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage;
  • European Commission (This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 101030646, “EPISTYLE”);
  • IHPST (UMR 8590, Paris 1/CNRS);
  • LIR3S (Laboratoire interdisciplinaire de recherche Sociétés, Sensibilité, Soin, UMR7366 CNRS-université de Bourgogne);
  • IMGWF, Universität zu Lübeck.

Organizing committee:

Caroline Angleraux (iBrain U1253, INSERM de Tours)
Lucie Fabry (Université de Bourgogne, LIR3S)
Iván Moya-Diez (IMGWF, Universität zu Lübeck)
Perceval Pillon (IHPST, Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne)
Matteo Vagelli (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia)

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