ABSTRACT:

Hans Christian ØØrsted and Thomas Johann Seebeck are recognized as the discoverers of electromagnetism and thermoelectricity. Yet what each man believed he had discovered differed markedly from what many contemporaries saw in those discoveries and from subsequent canonized representations of them. The central historical concern of this paper is to track the details of how scientists' understanding of what was discovered in these two cases, as embodied in their preferred language, evolved over time in response to different interests, conceptual preferences, and ontological beliefs. The very concept of discovery, in accordance with which scientists bestow recognition only on someone who has discovered something held to be true of the world, plays an important role in the process of consensus formation by the interacting collectivity of scientists. In its historiographical assessment of such episodes, this study builds upon Thomas Kuhn's recognition that ““discovering a new sort of phenomena is necessarily a complex process which includes recognizing both that something is and what it is””; upon augustine Brannigan's analysis of the social construction of discovery accounts, whereby ““the attribution of discovery is structured……by the perception that the achievement is coherent with existing knowledge in the field””; and upon Ludwik Fleck's analysis of the creative role of an interacting ““thought collective”” in the ““genesis and development of a scientific fact.””

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.