Imre Lakatos’s conception of the history of science is explicated with the purpose of replying to criticism leveled against it by Thomas Kuhn, Ian Hacking, and others. Kuhn’s primary argument is that the historian’s internal-external distinction is methodologically superior to Lakatos’s distinction because it is “independent” of an analysis of rationality. That distinction, however, appears to be a normative one, harboring an implicit and unarticulated appeal to rationality, despite Kuhn’s claims to the contrary. Lakatos’s history, by contrast, is clearly the history of a normatively defined discipline; of science and not scientists and their activities. How such history can be written, the historiographic and critical tools available for its construction, and its importance as history are considered in detail. In an afterword, the prevalence of Lakatos’s treatment of history in philosophical discussion is indicated: a related approach is shown to arise in social contract theory.

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