The Functional Approach: Scientific Progress as Increased Usefulness

Yafeng Shan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The functional approach to scientific progress has been mainly developed by Kuhn, Lakatos, Popper, Laudan, and more recently by Shan. The basic idea is that science progresses if key functions of science are fulfilled in a better way. This chapter defends the function approach. It begins with an overview of the two old versions of the functional approach by examining the work of Kuhn, Laudan, Popper, and Lakatos. It then argues for Shan’s new functional approach, in which scientific progress is defined as an increase of usefulness of exemplary practices.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNew Philosophical Perspectives on Scientific Progress
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781000780888
ISBN (Print)9780367760557
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2022
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'The Functional Approach: Scientific Progress as Increased Usefulness'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this