Styles of reasoning: A pluralist view

Otávio Bueno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Styles of reasoning are important devices to understand scientific practice. As I use the concept, a style of reasoning is a pattern of inferential relations that are used to select, interpret, and support evidence for scientific results. In this paper, I defend the view that there is a plurality of styles of reasoning: different domains of science often invoke different styles. I argue that this plurality is an important source of disunity in scientific practice, and it provides additional arguments in support of the disunity claim. I also contrast Ian Hacking's broad characterization of styles of reasoning with a narrow understanding that I favor. Drawing on examples from molecular biology, chemistry and mathematics, I argue that differences in style of reasoning lead to differences in the way the relevant results are obtained and interpreted. The result is a pluralist view about styles of reasoning that is sensitive to nuances of inferential relations in scientific activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-665
Number of pages9
JournalStudies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Disunity of science
  • Hacking
  • Imaging
  • Inference
  • Representation
  • Style of reasoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • History
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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