Proposal: History of Science and Mathematics

There was a previous History of Science proposal, but I don't know what happened to it. On that proposal, there was a discussion about whether the Philosophy of Science was on-topic (discussion of the scientific method, etc.). I think it was generally agreed that anything that would be covered by the discipline of History and Philosophy of Science would be covered by the site (that discipline also covers maths, since it's a type of science).

Is that the case for this proposal too?

As a side-proposal, I think "History and Philosophy of Science" is a better name than "History of Science and Mathematics", because it's broader, and gives the site more broad appeal.

  • 1
    Mathematics is not universally considered to be a science en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mathematics#Mathematics_as_science, so leaving it out would make it narrower, not broader.
    – Conifold
    Sep 11 '14 at 1:20
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    @Conifold: that depends if we choose to agree with Gauss and Marcus du Sautoy or with Einstein and young Karl Popper :P. Non-universality doesn't make it narrower, it just forces us to define our terms for the site. "History and Philosophy of Science and Mathematics" is a bit of a mouthful. Mathematics is the only one of those terms that can be defined as a subset of one of the others, so it's the only one that's reasonable to leave out (if we are concerned with both history and philosophy). But whatever, it's just a name. The main question is whether Philosophy of Science is on-topic.
    – naught101
    Sep 11 '14 at 1:32
  • C. Truesdell argued that science, when systematic, is applied mathematics, and P. Dirac felt the same, expressing his view in 1938. I am split on whether philosophy of science is part of history of science; there is a wonderful journal journals.elsevier.com/… that publishes either or both in each article and its counterparts in biophysics and science in general. But there is already a philosophy stack exchange ... Oct 1 '14 at 13:05
  • If one asks : who first published or how they came to believe such and such a philosophy of science, or what it's influence was, this I think is on topic. But WHAT the philosophy is, and the discussion of its merits without the above, would be better suited for the philosophy stackexchange. In vain it is to multiply forums without necessity... ;) Oct 1 '14 at 13:10
  • Perhaps a better question would have been "How do we decide if a philosophy of science question is more suited to HistoryOfScience.SE or Philosophy.SE?"
    – naught101
    Oct 2 '14 at 5:06

My sense is that philosophies of science and mathematics are more suitable for Philosophy Stack Exchange, which already has the corresponding tags. The reason is the nature of questions and answers. Philosophical topics are naturally broad and open ended with a lot of room for speculation and personal opinion. Historical questions, on the other hand, admit much more definitive answers in most cases, speculation is usually restricted to interpolating existing sources, and is explicitly marked as such. It is hard to imagine a set of rules that would fit both types of questions well.


No, but I would tend to accept history of philosophy of science questions.

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