Ideals and Practices of Rationality – An Interview with Lorraine Daston


  • Michael Trevor Bycroft University of Warwick
  • Michael Trevor Bycroft Department of History, University of Warwick



Lorraine Daston, history of science, collaboration, archives, historical epistemology, scientific progress


Lorraine Daston is a historian of science based at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin, where she has directed a research group since 1995. Her career spans five decades and has included award-winning monographs such as Classical Probability in the Enlightenment (1988), Wonders and the Order of Nature (with Katherine Park, 1998), and Objectivity (with Peter Galison, 2007), as well as a large number of collective works. She visited the University of Warwick in March 2017 to deliver the Vice-Chancellor’s Distinguished Lecture. In a wide-ranging interview, she spoke about the evolution of the discipline of the history of science; the research programme known as historical epistemology; the nuts and bolts of collaboration in the humanities; her current research on archives in the sciences and the humanities; and the transience of scientific theories.


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Author Biography

Michael Trevor Bycroft, University of Warwick

Postdoctoral Research Fellow

History Department


Conant, J. B. (1948), Harvard Case Studies in Experimental Science, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Daston, L., Classical Probability in the Enlightenment (1988), Princeton: Princeton University Press

Daston, L. (ed.) (2017), Science in the Archives: Pasts, Presents, Futures, Chicago: Chicago University Press

Daston, L., P. Erickson, J. L. Klein, R. Lemov, T. Sturm, and M. D. Gordin (eds.) (2013), How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind: The Strange Career of Cold War Rationality, Chicago: Chicago University Press

Daston, L. and P. Galison (2007), Objectivity, New York: Zone Books

Daston, L., L. Krüger and M. Heidelberger (eds.) (1987), The Probabilistic Revolution; Vol. I: Ideas in History, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

Daston, L. and E. Lunbeck (eds.), Histories of Scientific Observation, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011

Daston, L. and K. Park (1998), Wonders and the Order of Nature, New York: Zone Books

Hacking, I. (1975), The Emergence of Probability, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Kuhn, T. (1962), The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Photo of Lorraine Daston






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