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  1. I. N. Marshall (1995). Some Phenomenological Implications of a Quantum Model of Consciousness. Minds and Machines 5 (4):609-20.
    We contrast person-centered categories with objective categories related to physics: consciousness vs. mechanism, observer vs. observed, agency vs. event causation. semantics vs. syntax, beliefs and desires vs. dispositions. How are these two sets of categories related? This talk will discuss just one such dichotomy: consciousness vs. mechanism. Two extreme views are dualism and reductionism. An intermediate view is emergence. Here, consciousness is part of the natural order (as against dualism), but consciousness is not definable only in terms of physical mass, (...)
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  2. D. Mayr (1981). Comment on Putnam's 'Quantum Mechanics and the Observer'. Erkenntnis 16 (2):221 - 225.
  3. Bruce Rosenblum & Fred Kuttner (2002). The Observer in the Quantum Experiment. Foundations of Physics 32 (8):1273-1293.
    A goal of most interpretations of quantum mechanics is to avoid the apparent intrusion of the observer into the measurement process. Such intrusion is usually seen to arise because observation somehow selects a single actuality from among the many possibilities represented by the wavefunction. The issue is typically treated in terms of the mathematical formulation of the quantum theory. We attempt to address a different manifestation of the quantum measurement problem in a theory-neutral manner. With a version of the two-slit (...)
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  4. Abner Shimony (1993). Search for a Naturalistic Worldview, Volume 2: Natural Science and Metaphysics. Cambridge University Press.
    Table of Contents: Acknowledgements; Preface; 1. Integral epistemology; 2. Reality, causality and closing the circle; 3. Search for a world view that can accommodate our knowledge of microphysics; 4. Perception from an evolutionary point of view; 5. Is observation theory-laden? A problem in naturalistic epistemology; 6. Coherence and the axioms of confirmation; 7. An adamite derivation of the principles of the calculus of probability; 8. The status of the principle of maximum entropy; 9. Scientific inference; 10. Reconsiderations on inductive logic; (...)
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  5. K. S. Shrader-Frechette (1982). Quark Quantum Numbers and the Problem of Microphysical Observation. Synthese 50 (1):125 - 145.
    The main question addressed in this essay is whether quarks have been observed in any sense and, if so, what might be meant by this use of the term, observation. In the first (or introductory) section of the paper, I explain that well-known researchers are divided on the answers to these important questions. In the second section, I investigate microphysical observation in general. Here I argue that Wilson's analogy between observation by means of high-energy accelerators and observation by means of (...)
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  6. Paul Sonenthal, The Role of the Observer in Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics.
    Although quantum mechanics has significantly advanced our understanding of the physical world, it has also been a source of great confusion. Myriad interpretations, and interpretations of interpretations, have been proposed to try and explain away the seeming inconsistencies which lie at the heart of quantum mechanics. All of these attempts at interpretation center on the seemingly intractable measurement problem. In this essay I argue that a number of interpretations of quantum mechanics are plagued by inadequate and misleading assumptions about the (...)
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Observables
  1. Alberto C. De la Torre (2007). Observables Have No Value: A No-Go Theorem for Position and Momentum Observables. [REVIEW] Foundations of Physics 37 (8):1243-1252.
    The Bell–Kochen–Specker contradiction is presented using continuous observables in infinite dimensional Hilbert space. It is shown that the assumption of the existence of putative values for position and momentum observables for one single particle is incompatible with quantum mechanics.
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  2. Zoltan Domotor (1972). Species of Measurement Structures. Theoria 38 (1-2):64-81.
  3. Zoltan Domotor & Vadim Batitsky (2008). The Analytic Versus Representational Theory of Measurement: A Philosophy of Science Perspective. Measurement Science Review 8 (6):129-146.
    In this paper we motivate and develop the analytic theory of measurement, in which autonomously specified algebras of quantities (together with the resources of mathematical analysis) are used as a unified mathematical framework for modeling (a) the time-dependent behavior of natural systems, (b) interactions between natural systems and measuring instruments, (c) error and uncertainty in measurement, and (d) the formal propositional language for describing and reasoning about measurement results. We also discuss how a celebrated theorem in analysis, known as Gelfand (...)
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  4. Theodore J. Everett (2010). Observation and Induction. Logos and Episteme 1 (2):303-324.
    This article offers a simple technical resolution to the problem of induction, which is to say that general facts are not always inferred from observations of particular facts, but are themselves sometimes defeasibly observed. The article suggests a holistic account of observation that allows for general statements in empirical theories to be interpreted as observation reports, in place of the common but arguably obsolete idea that observations are exclusively particular. Predictions and other particular statements about unobservable facts can then appear (...)
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  5. Marian Grabowski (1989). What is an Observable? Foundations of Physics 19 (7):923-930.
    The concept of generalized observable in the scheme of Hilbert quantum mechanics is discussed. We give an example of a possible ambiguity of this notion. The role of interpretation and the strong connection with concrete experimental procedures in the discussion of generalized observables are stressed to explain the above ambiguity.
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  6. S. P. Gudder & G. T. Rüttimann (1986). Observables on Hypergraphs. Foundations of Physics 16 (8):773-790.
    Observables on hypergraphs are described by event-valued measures. We first distinguish between finitely additive observables and countably additive ones. We then study the spectrum, compatibility, and functions of observables. Next a relationship between observables and certain functionals on the set of measures M(H) of a hypergraph H is established. We characterize hypergraphs for which every linear functional on M(H) is determined by an observable. We define the concept of an “effect” and show that observables are related to effect-valued measures. Finally, (...)
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  7. Pekka Lahti & Juha-Pekka Pellonpää (2010). On the Complementarity of the Quadrature Observables. Foundations of Physics 40 (9-10):1419-1428.
    In this paper we investigate the coupling properties of pairs of quadrature observables, showing that, apart from the Weyl relation, they share the same coupling properties as the position-momentum pair. In particular, they are complementary. We determine the marginal observables of a covariant phase space observable with respect to an arbitrary rotated reference frame, and observe that these marginal observables are unsharp quadrature observables. The related distributions constitute the Radon transform of a phase space distribution of the covariant phase space (...)
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  8. Asher Peres (2003). What's Wrong with These Observables? Foundations of Physics 33 (10):1543-1547.
    An imprecise measurement of a dynamical variable (such as a spin component) does not, in general, give the value of another dynamical variable (such as a spin component along a slightly different direction). The result of the measurement cannot be interpreted as the value of any observable that has a classical analogue.
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  9. S. Pulmannová (1981). On the Observables on Quantum Logics. Foundations of Physics 11 (1-2):127-136.
    Two postulates concerning observables on a quantum logic are formulated. By Postulate 1 compatibility of observables is defined by the strong topology on the set of observables. Postulate 2 requires that the range of the sum of observables ought to be contained in the smallestC-closed sublogic generated by their ranges. It is shown that the Hilbert space logicL(H) satisfies the two postulates. A theorem on the connection between joint distributions of types 1 and 2 on the logic satisfying Postulate 2 (...)
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  10. H. Reiter & W. Thirring (1989). Arex Andp Incompatible Observables? Foundations of Physics 19 (8):1037-1039.
    Common eigenfunctions of nontrivial projectors of x and p are constructed.
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  11. Beloslav Riečan (2000). On the Joint Distribution of Observables. Foundations of Physics 30 (10):1679-1686.
    A general algebraic system M is considered with two binary operations. The family of all measurable functions with values in the unit interval is a motivating example. A state is a morphism from M to the unit interval, an observable is a morphism from the family of Borel sets to M. A joint distribution of two observables is constructed. It is applied for the construction of the sum of observables and for a representation of conditional probability.
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The Observation-Theory Distinction
  1. Louise Anthony (1993). Conceptual Connection and the Observation/ Theory Distinction. In Holism: A Consumer Update. Amsterdam: Rodopi. 135-161.
    Fodor and LePore's reconstruction of the semantic holism debate in terms of "atomism" and "anatomism" is inadequate: it fails to highlight the important issue of how intentional contents are individuated, and excludes or obscures several possible positions on the metaphysics of content. One such position, "weak sociabilism" is important because it addresses concerns of Fodor and LePore's molecularist critics about conditions for possession of concepts, without abandoning atomism about content individuation. Properties like DEMOCRACY may be "theoretical" in the following sense: (...)
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  2. Louise Anthony (1993). Holism: A Consumer Update. Amsterdam: Rodopi.
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  3. Jody Azzouni (2004). Theory, Observation and Scientific Realism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 55 (3):371-392.
    A normative constraint on theories about objects which we take to be real is explored: such theories are required to track the properties of the objects which they are theories of. Epistemic views in which observation (and generalizations of it) play a central role, and holist views which see epistemic virtues as applicable only to whole theories, are contrasted in the light of this constraint. It's argued that global-style epistemic virtues can't meet the constraint, although (certain) epistemic views within which (...)
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  4. Anjan Chakravartty (2003). The Reality of the Unobservable: Observability, Unobservability and Their Impact on the Issue of Scientific Realism. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2):359-363.
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  5. Jerry A. Fodor (1984). Observation Reconsidered. Philosophy of Science 51 (March):23-43.
    Several arguments are considered which purport to demonstrate the impossibility of theory-neutral observation. The most important of these infers the continuity of observation with theory from the presumed continuity of perception with cognition, a doctrine widely espoused in recent cognitive psychology. An alternative psychological account of the relation between cognition and perception is proposed and its epistemological consequences for the observation/theory distinction are then explored.
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  6. Daniel Gilman (1992). What's a Theory to Do... With Seeing? Or Some Empirical Considerations for Observation and Theory. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 43 (3):287-309.
    it to be an empirical fact that even the most basic human perception is heavily theory–laden. I offer critical examination of experimental evidence cited by Thomas Kuhn and Paul Churchland on behalf of this supposition. I argue that the empirical evidence cited is inadequate support for the claims in question. I further argue that we have empirical grounds for claiming that the Kuhnian discussion of perception is developed within an inadequate conceptual framework and that a version of the observation/theory distinction (...)
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  7. Milena Ivanova (2013). Did Perrin's Experiments Convert Poincare to Scientific Realism. Hopos 3 (1):1-19.
    In this paper I argue that Poincaré’s acceptance of the atom does not indicate a shift from instrumentalism to scientific realism. I examine the implications of Poincaré’s acceptance of the existence of the atom for our current understanding of his philosophy of science. Specifically, how can we understand Poincaré’s acceptance of the atom in structural realist terms? I examine his 1912 paper carefully and suggest that it does not entail scientific realism in the sense of acceptance of the fundamental existence (...)
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  8. Matthias Kaiser (1991). From Rocks to Graphs — the Shaping of Phenomena. Synthese 89 (1):111 - 133.
    Assuming an essential difference between scientific data and phenomena, this paper argues for the view that we have to understand how empirical findings get transformed into scientific phenomena. The work of scientists is seen as largely consisting in constructing these phenomena which are then utilized in more abstract theories. It is claimed that these matters are of importance for discussions of theory choice and progress in science. A case study is presented as a starting point: paleomagnetism and the use of (...)
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  9. William H. Krieger & Brian L. Keeley (2006). The Unexpected Realist. In Brian L. Keeley (ed.), Paul Churchland. Cambridge University Press.
    There are two ways to do the unexpected. The banal way—let's call it the expectedly unexpected—is simply to chart the waters of what is and is not done, and then set out to do something different. For a philosopher, this can be done by embracing a method of non sequitor or by perhaps inverting some strongly held assumption of the field. The more interesting way— the unexpectedly unexpected—is to transform the expectations themselves; to do something new and contextualize it in (...)
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  10. Farzad Mahootian & Timothy E. Eastman (2009). Complementary Frameworks of Scientific Inquiry: Hypothetico-Deductive, Hypothetico-Inductive, and Observational-Inductive. World Futures 65 (1):61 – 75.
    The 20th century philosophy of science began on a positivistic note. Its focal point was scientific explanation and the hypothetico-deductive (HD) framework of explanation was proposed as the standard of what is meant by “science.” HD framework, its inductive and statistical variants, and other logic-based approaches to modeling scientific explanation were developed long before the dawn of the information age. Since that time, the volume of observational data and power of high performance computing have increased by several orders of magnitude (...)
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  11. J. Christopher Maloney (1986). Sensation and Scientific Realism. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 46 (3):471-482.
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  12. Ernest Nagel (ed.) (1971). Observation and Theory in Science. Baltimore,Johns Hopkins Press.
  13. S. Okasha (2011). Experiment, Observation and the Confirmation of Laws. Analysis 71 (2):222-232.
  14. Observation Reconsidered (1984). Philosophy of Science Association Observation Reconsidered. Philosophy of Science 51 (1):23-43.
    Several arguments are considered which purport to demonstrate the impossibility of theory-neutral observation. The most important of these infers the continuity of observation with theory from the presumed continuity of perception with cognition, a doctrine widely espoused in recent cognitive psychology. An alternative psychological account of the relation between cognition and perception is proposed and its epistemological consequences for the observation/theory distinction are then explored.
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  15. Raimo Tuomela (1978). Scientific Realism and Perception. [REVIEW] British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 29 (1):87-104.
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  16. Ioannis Votsis (forthcoming). Perception and Observation Unladened. Philosophical Studies:1-23.
    Let us call ‘veridicalism’ the view that perceptual beliefs and observational reports are largely truthful. This paper aims to make a case for veridicalism by, among other things, examining in detail and ultimately deflating in import what many consider to be the view’s greatest threat, the so-called ‘theory-ladenness’ of perception and/or observation. In what follows, it is argued that to the extent that theoretical factors influence the formation of perceptual beliefs and observational reports, as theory-ladenness demands, that influence is typically (...)
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  17. Ioannis Votsis (2011). Data Meet Theory: Up Close and Inferentially Personal. Synthese 182 (1):89 - 100.
    In a recent paper James Bogen and James Woodward denounce a set of views on confirmation that they collectively brand 'IRS'. The supporters of these views cast confirmation in terms of Inferential Relations between observational and theoretical Sentences. Against 1RS accounts of confirmation, Bogen and Woodward unveil two main objections: (a) inferential relations are not necessary to model confirmation relations since many data are neither in sentential form nor can they be put in such a form and (b) inferential relations (...)
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  18. Ioannis Votsis (2010). Making Contact with Observations. In Mauricio Suarez, Mauro Dorato & Miklos Redei (eds.), Epsa Philosophical Issues in the Sciences. Springer. 267--277.
  19. Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther (2009). Character Analysis in Cladistics: Abstraction, Reification, and the Search for Objectivity. Acta Biotheoretica 57:129-162.
    The dangers of character reification for cladistic inference are explored. The identification and analysis of characters always involves theory-laden abstraction—there is no theory-free “view from nowhere.” Given theory-ladenness, and given a real world with actual objects and processes, how can we separate robustly real biological characters from uncritically reified characters? One way to avoid reification is through the employment of objectivity criteria that give us good methods for identifying robust primary homology statements. I identify six such criteria and explore each (...)
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  20. Crispin Wright (1993). Scientific Realism and Observation Statements. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 1 (2):231 – 254.
Observation, Misc
  1. Christopher Belanger (2013). On Two Mathematical Definitions of Observational Equivalence: Manifest Isomorphism and Epsilon-Congruence Reconsidered. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part B 44 (2):69-76.
    In this article I examine two mathematical definitions of observational equivalence, one proposed by Charlotte Werndl and based on manifest isomorphism, and the other based on Ornstein and Weiss’s ε-congruence. I argue, for two related reasons, that neither can function as a purely mathematical definition of observational equivalence. First, each definition permits of counterexamples; second, overcoming these counterexamples will introduce non-mathematical premises about the systems in question. Accordingly, the prospects for a broadly applicable and purely mathematical definition of observational equivalence (...)
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  2. Annamaria Carusi (2012). Making the Visual Visible in Philosophy of Science. Spontaneous Generations 6 (1):106-114.
    As data-intensive and computational science become increasingly established as the dominant mode of conducting scientific research, visualisations of data and of the outcomes of science become increasingly prominent in mediating knowledge in the scientific arena. This position piece advocates that more attention should be paid to the epistemological role of visualisations beyond their being a cognitive aid to understanding, but as playing a crucial role in the formation of evidence for scientific claims. The new generation of computational and informational visualisations (...)
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  3. Milan M. Ćirković (2002). Book Review: Anthropic Bias: Observation Selection Effects in Science and Philosophy. By Nick Bostrom. Routledge, New York and London, 2002, Xiii+224 Pp., $70 (Hardcover). ISBN 0-415-93858-9. [REVIEW] Foundations of Physics 32 (11):1797-1801.
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  4. George Darby & Jon Williamson (2011). Imaging Technology and the Philosophy of Causality. Philosophy and Technology 24 (2):115-136.
    Russo and Williamson (Int Stud Philos Sci 21(2):157–170, 2007) put forward the thesis that, at least in the health sciences, to establish the claim that C is a cause of E, one normally needs evidence of an underlying mechanism linking C and E as well as evidence that C makes a difference to E. This epistemological thesis poses a problem for most current analyses of causality which, in virtue of analysing causality in terms of just one of mechanisms or difference (...)
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  5. Brigitte Falkenburg (2011). What Are the Phenomena of Physics? Synthese 182 (1):149-163.
    Depending on different positions in the debate on scientific realism, there are various accounts of the phenomena of physics. For scientific realists like Bogen and Woodward, phenomena are matters of fact in nature, i.e., the effects explained and predicted by physical theories. For empiricists like van Fraassen, the phenomena of physics are the appearances observed or perceived by sensory experience. Constructivists, however, regard the phenomena of physics as artificial structures generated by experimental and mathematical methods. My paper investigates the historical (...)
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  6. Ravi Gomatam, Physics and Commonsense.
    Broadly stated, naïve realism is the attitude that the form of our outer experiences directly and literally correspond to the structure of the real world underlying these experiences. Naïve realism permeates our everyday thinking about, and ordinary language description of, the macroscopic world. It has undeniable pragmatic justification. However, as Descartes recognized centuries ago, philosophically speaking, naïve realism requires a justification. Physicists, nevertheless, simply assume naïve realism in interpreting the laboratory observations realistically. Thus, physicists do not find the philosophical issues (...)
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  7. Michael Knapp & Warren Ewens (2005). Direct Observation and Unambiguous Inference. Biology and Philosophy 20 (4):925-926.
    In science, it sometimes occurs that an event is directly observed, and on other occasions that it is not directly observed but one can make the unambiguous inference that it has occurred. Is there any difference concerning the analysis of data arising from these two situations? In this note we show that there is such a difference in one case arising frequently in genetics. The difference derives from the fact that the ability to make the unambiguous inference arises only from (...)
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  8. S. Leonelli (2012). Introduction: Making Sense of Data-Driven Research in the Biological and Biomedical Sciences. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 43 (1):1-3.
  9. Jonathan Livengood (2009). Why Was M. S. Tswett's Chromatographic Adsorption Analysis Rejected? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 40 (1):57-69.
    The present paper claims that M. S. Tswett’s chromatographic adsorption analysis, which today is a ubiquitous and instrumentally sophisticated chemical technique, was either ignored or outright rejected by chemists and botanists in the first three decades of the twentieth century because it did not make sense in terms of accepted chemical theory or practice. Evidence for this claim is culled from consideration of the botanical and chemical context of Tswett’s technique as well as an analysis of the protracted debate over (...)
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  10. Farzad Mahootian & Timothy E. Eastman (2009). Complementary Frameworks of Scientific Inquiry: Hypothetico-Deductive, Hypothetico-Inductive, and Observational-Inductive. World Futures 65 (1):61 – 75.
    The 20th century philosophy of science began on a positivistic note. Its focal point was scientific explanation and the hypothetico-deductive (HD) framework of explanation was proposed as the standard of what is meant by “science.” HD framework, its inductive and statistical variants, and other logic-based approaches to modeling scientific explanation were developed long before the dawn of the information age. Since that time, the volume of observational data and power of high performance computing have increased by several orders of magnitude (...)
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  11. Moti Mizrahi (2014). Constructive Empiricism: Normative or Descriptive? International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (4):604-616.
    In this paper, I argue that Constructive Empiricism (CE) is ambiguous between two interpretations: CE as a normative epistemology of science and CE as a descriptive philosophy of science. When they present CE, constructive empiricists write as if CE is supposed to be more than a normative epistemology of science and that it is meant to be responsible to actual scientific practices. However, when they respond to objections, constructive empiricists fall back on a strictly normative interpretation of CE. This ambiguity (...)
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  12. Omar W. Nasim (2013). Observing by Hand: Sketching the Nebulae in the Nineteenth Century. University of Chicago Press.
    Today we are all familiar with the iconic pictures of the nebulae produced by the Hubble Space Telescope’s digital cameras. But there was a time, before the successful application of photography to the heavens, in which scientists had to rely on handmade drawings of these mysterious phenomena. Observing by Hand sheds entirely new light on the ways in which the production and reception of handdrawn images of the nebulae in the nineteenth century contributed to astronomical observation. Omar W. Nasim investigates (...)
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  13. Jacob Stegenga (2011). The Chemical Characterization of the Gene: Vicissitudes of Evidential Assessment. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 33 (1):105-127.
    The chemical characterization of the substance responsible for the phenomenon of “transformation” of pneumococci was presented in the now famous 1944 paper by Avery, MacLeod, and McCarty. Reception of this work was mixed. Although interpreting their results as evidence that deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the molecule responsible for genetic changes was, at the time, controversial, this paper has been retrospectively celebrated as providing such evidence. The mixed and changing assessment of the evidence presented in the paper was due to the (...)
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