From his recent piece in the New York Review of Books:
Nevertheless, in teaching courses on the history of physics and astronomy, and then working up my lectures into a book, I have come to think that whatever one thinks of whiggery in other sorts of history, it has a rightful place in the history of science. It is clearly not possible to speak of right and wrong in the history of art or fashion, nor I think is it possible in the history of religion, and one can argue about whether it is possible in political history, but in scientific history we really can say who was right. More (but most of it is paywalled).
He cites Copernicus against the adherents of Ptolemy, and Newton against the followers of Descartes.
There are two problems with Weinberg’s contention:
1)Many facts are as beyond dispute in history, art, or even fashion as the orbit of Earth or the usual behaviour of gravity are in science. When the Battle of Midway took place, who painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling, when the mini-skirt hit the fashion world are matters of historical evidence. Science has nothing over these other endeavours when the question can be decided by evidence.
2) Whiggery in science is as misleading as it is anywhere else. The defense of Darwinism is contrary to the evidence for how evolution happens; it supports Whiggish claims about science as a sort of “candle in the dark,”and at this point that’s about all it does.
See also: Consensus science and the rejection of continental drift
Will Dawkins’ selfish gene concept die as its proponents retire?
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