Making Sense of Hacking

Styles, Metaphilosophy and Naturalism


  • Jack Ritchie University of Cape Town



Ian Hacking, Styles of Thinking, Philosophical Anthropology, Metaphilosophy, Naturalism


I argue a useful way to conceptualise all of Hacking’s work is through his styles project. This provides us with a simple structure to organise many of Hacking’s main texts and brings into sharp relief two of his major philosophical projects. The first is to explain the stability of science. The second is metaphilosophical: to understand why scientific activity gives rise to certain philosophical difficulties, for example realism disputes. In its most ambitious form, Hacking called his project Philosophical Anthropology, and his aim was to explain how creatures like us, in a world like this have happened to alight on methods of finding out that work so well. I end with a brief discussion of how successfully he realised his goals and an even briefer comparison with two naturalist philosophers, Mark Wilson and Penelope Maddy, who share some of his interests and ambitions.


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How to Cite

Ritchie, Jack. 2023. “Making Sense of Hacking: Styles, Metaphilosophy and Naturalism”. Transversal: International Journal for the Historiography of Science, no. 15 (December).



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