A new approach to analyze scientific methods as patternsof state transitions is proposed and exemplified by the two mostimportant, general methods: induction and deduction. Though only`local' states of science are considered in this paper, includinghypotheses, data, approximation and degree of fit, the approach caneasily be extended to more comprehensive kinds of states. Two `pure'forms of induction are distinguished, enumerative and hypothesisconstruction induction. A combination of these two forms is proposedto yield a more adequate picture of induction. While the pure forms (...) ofinduction are clearly distinct from the deductive pattern, the patternof the combined form of induction is very similar to the latter. Thepresent account of scientific methods not only points out thedifferences between different methods but – in contrast to usualdiscussions of methodology – also clarifies what they have in common. (shrink)
Chaos-related obstructions to predictability have been used to challenge accounts of theory validation based on the agreement between theoretical predictions and experimental data (Rueger & Sharp, 1996. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 47, 93–112; Koperski, 1998. Philosophy of Science, 40, 194–212). These challenges are incomplete in two respects: (a) they do not show that chaotic regimes are unpredictable in principle (i.e., with unbounded resources) and, as a result, that there is something conceptually wrong with idealized expectations of (...) correct predictions from acceptable theories, and (b) they do not explore whether chaos-induced predictive failures of deterministic models can be remedied by stochastic modeling. In this paper we appeal to an asymptotic analysis of state space trajectories and their numerical approximations to show that chaotic regimes are deterministically unpredictable even with unbounded resources. Additionally, we explain why stochastic models of chaotic systems, while predictively successful in some cases, are in general predictively as limited as deterministic ones. We conclude by suggesting that the way in which scientists deal with such principled obstructions to predictability calls for a more comprehensive approach to theory validation, on which experimental testing is augmented by a multifaceted mathematical analysis of theoretical models, capable of identifying chaos-related predictive failures as due to principled limitations which the world itself imposes on any less-than-omniscient epistemic access to some natural systems. (shrink)
Many scientists believe that there is a uniform, interdisciplinary method for the prac- tice of good science. The paradigmatic examples, however, are drawn from classical ex- perimental science. Insofar as historical hypotheses cannot be tested in controlled labo- ratory settings, historical research is sometimes said to be inferior to experimental research. Using examples from diverse historical disciplines, this paper demonstrates that such claims are misguided. First, the reputed superiority of experimental research is based upon accounts of scientific methodology (Baconian inductivism (...) or falsificationism) that are deeply flawed, both logically and as accounts of the actual practices of scientists. Second, although there are fundamental differences in methodology between experimental scien- tists and historical scientists, they are keyed to a pervasive feature of nature, a time asymmetry of causation. As a consequence, the claim that historical science is methodo- logically inferior to experimental science cannot be sustained. (shrink)
This classic work in the philosophy of physical science is an incisive and readable account of the scientific method. Pierre Duhem was one of the great figures in French science, a devoted teacher, and a distinguished scholar of the history and philosophy of science. This book represents his most mature thought on a wide range of topics.
There is currently no viable alternative to the Bayesian analysis of scientific inference, yet the available versions of Bayesianism fail to do justice to several aspects of the testing and confirmation of scientific hypotheses. Bayes or Bust? provides the first balanced treatment of the complex set of issues involved in this nagging conundrum in the philosophy of science. Both Bayesians and anti-Bayesians will find a wealth of new insights on topics ranging from Bayes's original paper to contemporary formal learning theory. (...) In a paper published posthumously in 1763, the Reverend Thomas Bayes made a seminal contribution to the understanding of "analogical or inductive reasoning." Building on his insights, modem Bayesians have developed an account of scientific inference that has attracted numerous champions as well as numerous detractors. Earman argues that Bayesianism provides the best hope for a comprehensive and unified account of scientific inference, yet the presently available versions of Bayesianisin fail to do justice to several aspects of the testing and confirming of scientific theories and hypotheses. By focusing on the need for a resolution to this impasse, Earman sharpens the issues on which a resolution turns. John Earman is Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. (shrink)
The results, conclusions and claims of science are often taken to be reliable because they arise from the use of a distinctive method. Yet today, there is widespread skepticism as to whether we can validly talk of method in modern science. This outstanding survey explains how this controversy has developed since the 17th century, and explores its philosophical basis.
Contesting the common opinion that, unlike the problem of induction, the problem of demarcation is of little signiﬁcance, the paper maintains that Popper’s criterion of falsiﬁability gives an irresistible answer to the question of what can be learnt from an empirical investigation. Everything follows from the rejection of inductive logic, together with the recognition that, before it can be empirically investigated, a hypothesis has to be formulated and accepted. Scientiﬁc hypotheses emerge neither a posteriori, as inductivists..
What is it to be scientific? Is there such a thing as scientific method? And if so, how might such methods be justified? -/- Robert Nola and Howard Sankey seek to provide answers to these fundamental questions in their exploration of the major recent theories of scientific method. Although for many scientists their understanding of method is something they just “pick up” in the course of being trained, Nola and Sankey argue that it is possible to be explicit about what (...) this tacit understanding of method is, rather than leave it as some unfathomable mystery. They robustly defend the idea that there is such a thing as scientific method and show how this might be legitimated. -/- The book begins with the question of what methodology might mean and explores the notions of values, rules and principles, before investigating how methodologists have sought to show that our scientific methods are rational. Part 2 of the book sets out some principles of inductive method and examines its alternatives including abduction, IBE, and hypothetico-deductivism. Part 3 introduces probabilistic modes of reasoning, particularly Bayesianism in its various guises, and shows how it is able to give an account of many of the values and rules of method. Part 4 considers the ideas of philosophers who have proposed distinctive theories of method such as Popper, Lakatos, Kuhn and Feyerabend and Part 5 continues this theme by considering philosophers who have proposed “naturalised” theories of method such as Quine, Laudan and Rescher. -/- The book offers readers a comprehensive introduction to the idea of scientific method and a wide-ranging discussion of how historians of science, philosophers of science and scientists have grappled with the question over the last fifty years. -/- . (shrink)
Some think that issues to do with scientific method are last century's stale debate; Popper was an advocate of methodology, but Kuhn, Feyerabend, and others are alleged to have brought the debate about its status to an end. The papers in this volume show that issues in methodology are still very much alive. Some of the papers reinvestigate issues in the debate over methodology, while others set out new ways in which the debate has developed in the last decade. The (...) book will be of interest to philosophers and scientists alike in the reassessment it provides of earlier debates about method and current directions of research. (shrink)
" Vivid . . . immense clarity . . . the product of a brilliant and extremely forceful intellect." — Journal of the Royal Naval Scientific Service "Still a sheer joy to read." — Mathematical Gazette "Should be read by any student, teacher or researcher in mathematics." — Mathematics Teacher The originator of algebraic topology and of the theory of analytic functions of several complex variables, Henri Poincare (1854–1912) excelled at explaining the complexities of scientific and mathematical ideas to lay (...) readers. Science and Method, written in 1908, has been appreciated by a wide audience of nonprofessionals and translated into many languages. It defines the basic methodology and psychology of scientific discovery, particularly in regard to mathematics and mathematical physics. Drawing on examples from many fields, it explains how scientists analyze and choose their working facts, and it explores the nature of experimentation, theory, and the mind. 1914 edition. Translated by Francis Maitland. (shrink)
By reference to Maxwell's kinetic theory, one feature of hypothetico-deductivism is defended. A scientist need make no inference to a hypothesis when he first proposes it. He may have no reason at all for thinking it is true. Yet it may be worth considering. In developing his kinetic theory there were central assumptions Maxwell made (for example, that molecules are spherical, that they exert contact forces, and that their motion is linear) that he had no reason to believe true. In (...) this paper I develop a position that explains why they were worth considering, and that rejects the retroductive position that a hypothesis is worth considering when, if true, it would explain the observed data. (shrink)
The two principal models of design in methodological circles in architecture—analysis/synthesis and conjecture/analysis—have their roots in philosophy of science, in different conceptions of scientific method. This paper explores the philosophical origins of these models and the reasons for rejecting analysis/synthesis in favour of conjecture/analysis, the latter being derived from Karl Popper’s view of scientific method. I discuss a fundamental problem with Popper’s view, however, and indicate a framework for conjecture/analysis to avoid this problem.
Knowledge of residual perturbations in Uranus's orbit led to Neptune's discovery in 1846 rather than the refutation of Newton's law of gravitation. Karl Popper asserts that this case is untypical of science and that the law was at least prima facie falsified. I argue that these assertions are the product of a false, a priori methodological position, 'Weak Popperian Falsificationism' (WPF), and that on the evidence the law was not, and was not considered, prima facie false. Many of Popper's commentators (...) presuppose WPF and their views on this case and its implications for scientific rationality and method are similarly unwarranted or defective. (shrink)
The first part of this paper reveals a conflict between the core principles of deterministic causation and the standard method of difference, which is widely seen (and used) as a correct method of causally analyzing deterministic structures. We show that applying the method of difference to deterministic structures can giverise to causal inferences that contradict the principles of deterministic causation. The second part then locates the source of this conflict in an inference rule implemented in the method of difference according (...) to which factors that can make a difference to investigated effects relative to one particular test setup are to be identified as causes, provided the causal background of the corresponding setup is homogeneous. The paper ends by modifying the method of difference in a way that renders it compatible with the principles of deterministic causation. (shrink)
This paper investigates whether there is a discrepancy between the stated and actual aims in biomechanical research, particularly with respect to hypothesis testing. We present an analysis of one hundred papers recently published in The Journal of Experimental Biology and Journal of Biomechanics, and examine the prevalence of papers which (a) have hypothesis testing as a stated aim, (b) contain hypothesis testing claims that appear to be purely presentational (i.e. which seem not to have influenced the actual study), and (c) (...) have exploration as a stated aim. We found that whereas no papers had exploration as a stated aim, 58% of papers had hypothesis testing as a stated aim. We had strong suspicions, at the bare minimum, that presentational hypotheses were present in 31% of the papers in this latter group. (shrink)
Throughout more than two millennia philosophers adhered massively to ideal standards of scientific rationality going back ultimately to Aristotle’s Analytica posteriora . These standards got progressively shaped by and adapted to new scientific needs and tendencies. Nevertheless, a core of conditions capturing the fundamentals of what a proper science should look like remained remarkably constant all along. Call this cluster of conditions the Classical Model of Science . In this paper we will do two things. First of all, we will (...) propose a general and systematized account of the Classical Model of Science. Secondly, we will offer an analysis of the philosophical significance of this model at different historical junctures by giving an overview of the connections it has had with a number of important topics. The latter include the analytic-synthetic distinction, the axiomatic method, the hierarchical order of sciences and the status of logic as a science. Our claim is that particularly fruitful insights are gained by seeing themes such as these against the background of the Classical Model of Science. In an appendix we deal with the historiographical background of this model by considering the systematizations of Aristotle’s theory of science offered by Heinrich Scholz, and in his footsteps by Evert W. Beth. (shrink)
I believe that the long-neglected ideas on science and scientific method of Charles Sanders Peirce and Josiah Royce can illuminate some of the current attacks on science that have surfaced: misconduct and fraud in science and anti-scientism or the "new cynicism." In addition, Royce and Peirce offer insights relevant to the ferment in contemporary philosophy of science around the various forms of pluralism advocated by a number of philosophers (see Kellert, Longino, and Waters). "Pluralism" is the view that "plurality in (...) science possibly represents an ineliminable character of scientific inquiry and knowledge (about at least some phenomena) . . . and that analysis of metascientific concepts (like theory .. (shrink)
The aim of this article is to discuss the nature of disagreement in scientific ontologies inthe light of case studies from biology and cognitive science. I argue that disagreements in scientificontologies are usually not about purely factual issues but involve both verbal and normativeaspects. Furthermore, I try to show that this partly non-factual character of disagreement inscientific ontologies does not lead to a radical deflationism but is compatible with a “normativeontological realism.” Finally, I argue that the case studies from the (...) empirical sciences challengecontemporary metaontological accounts that insist on exactly one true way of “carving nature atits joints.”. (shrink)
Most scientists would hold that science has not established that the cosmos is physically comprehensible – i.e. such that there is some as-yet undiscovered true physical theory of everything that is unified. This is an empirically untestable, or metaphysical thesis. It thus lies beyond the scope of science. Only when physics has formulated a testable unified theory of everything which has been amply corroborated empirically will science be in a position to declare that it has established that the cosmos is (...) physically comprehensible. But this argument presupposes a widely accepted but untenable conception of science which I shall call standard empiricism. According to standard empiricism, in science theories are accepted solely on the basis of evidence. Choice of theory may be influenced for a time by considerations of simplicity, unity, or explanatory capacity, but not in such a way that the universe itself is permanently assumed to be simple, unified or physically comprehensible. In science, no thesis about the universe can be accepted permanently as a part of scientific knowledge independently of evidence. Granted this view, it is clear that science cannot have established that the universe is physically comprehensible. Standard empiricism is, however, as I have indicated, untenable. Any fundamental physical theory, in order to be accepted as a part of theoretical scientific knowledge, must satisfy two criteria. It must be (1) sufficiently empirically successful, and (2) sufficiently unified. Given any accepted theory of physics, endlessly many empirically more successful disunified rivals can always be concocted – disunified because they assert that different dynamical laws govern the diverse phenomena to which the theory applies. These disunified rivals are not considered for a moment in physics, despite their greater empirical success. This persistent rejection of empirically more successful but disunified rival theories means, I argue, that a big, highly problematic, implicit assumption is made by science about the cosmos, to the effect, at least, that the cosmos is such that all seriously disunified theories are false. Once this point is recognized, it becomes clear, I argue, that we need a new conception of science which makes explicit, and so criticizable and improvable the big, influential, and problematic assumption that is at present implicit in physics in the persistent preference for unified theories. This conception of science, which I call aim-oriented empiricism, represents the assumption of physics in the form of a hierarchy of assumptions. As one goes up the hierarchy, the assumptions become less and less substantial, and more and more nearly such that their truth is required for science, or the pursuit of knowledge, to be possible at all. At each level, that assumption is accepted which (a) best accords with the next one up, and (b) has, associated with it the most empirically progressive research programme in physics, or holds out the greatest hope of leading to such an empirically progressive research programme. In this way a framework of relatively insubstantial, unproblematic, fixed assumptions and associated methods is created, high up in the hierarchy, within which much more substantial and problematic assumptions and associated methods, low down in the hierarchy, can be changed, and indeed improved, as scientific knowledge improves. One assumption in this hierarchy of assumptions, I argue, is that the cosmos is physically comprehensible – that is, such that some yet-to-be-discovered unified theory of everything is true. Hence the conclusion: improve our ideas about the nature of science and it becomes apparent that science has already established that the cosmos is physically comprehensible – in so far as science can ever establish anything theoretical. (shrink)
How can what is of value associated with our human world exist and best flourish embedded as it is in the physical universe? Or, as we may put it, how can the God-of-Cosmic-Value exist and best flourish embedded as it is in the God-of-Cosmic-Power? This, I argue, is our fundamental problem – fundamental in both intellectual and practical terms. Here, I tackle the practical aspect of the problem. I consider briefly five global problems – climate change, war, population growth, world (...) poverty, habitat destruction and extinction of species – and argue that, in order to solve them it is essential to bring about a revolution in universities round the world so that the basic aim becomes wisdom and not just knowledge. I conclude by indicating recent developments which suggest the revolution may already be underway. (shrink)
At present the basic intellectual aim of academic inquiry is to improve knowledge. Much of the structure, the whole character, of academic inquiry, in universities all over the world, is shaped by the adoption of this as the basic intellectual aim. But, judged from the standpoint of making a contribution to human welfare, academic inquiry of this type is damagingly irrational. Three of four of the most elementary rules of rational problem-solving are violated. A revolution in the aims and methods (...) of academic inquiry is needed so that the basic aim becomes to promote wisdom, conceived of as the capacity to realize what is of value, for oneself and others, thus including knowledge and technological know-how, but much else besides. This urgently needed revolution would affect every branch and aspect of the academic enterprise. (shrink)
Two great problems of learning confront humanity: first, learning about the nature of the universe and about ourselves as a part of the universe, and second, learning how to live wisely – learning how to make progress towards as good a world as possible. The first problem was solved, in essence, in the 17th century, with the creation of modern science. A method was discovered for progressively improving knowledge and understanding of the natural world, the famous empirical method of science. (...) But the second great problem of learning has not yet been solved. And this puts us in a situation of unprecedented danger. Indeed, all our current global problems can be traced back, in one way or another, to this source. Solving the first great problem of learning enormously increases our power to act, via the increase of scientific knowledge and technological know-how. But without wisdom – without a solution to the second problem of learning – our immensely increased power to act may have good consequences, but will as often as not have all sorts of harmful consequences as well, whether intended or not. In order to cope with the situation of unprecedented danger we find ourselves in, we need to learn from our solution to the first problem how to solve the second. That is, we need to learn from scientific progress how to make better social progress towards a wiser world. (shrink)
What ought to be the aims of science? How can science best serve humanity? What would an ideal science be like, a science that is sensitively and humanely responsive to the needs, problems and aspirations of people? How ought the institutional enterprise of science to be related to the rest of society? What ought to be the relationship between science and art, thought and feeling, reason and desire, mind and heart? Should the social sciences model themselves on the natural sciences: (...) or ought they to take a different form if they are to serve the interests of humanity objectively, sensitively and rigorously? Might it be possible to get into human life, into art, education, politics, industry, international affairs, and other domains of human activity, the same kind of progressive success that is found so strikingly, on the intellectual level, within science? These are some of the questions tackled by What’s Wrong With Science? But the book is no abstruse treatise on the philosophy of science. Most of it takes the form of a passionate debate between a Scientist and a Philosopher, a debate that is by turns humorous, ironical, bitter, dramatically explosive. Even as the argument explores the relationship between thought and feeling, reason and desire, the two main protagonists find it necessary to examine their own feelings and motivations. The book is a delight to read and can be understood by anyone. The book should have a wide appeal. It will be of interest to any scientist concerned about the intellectual and moral integrity of modern science – whether working in a physical, biological or social science. It will be of interest to educationalists, science teachers, students, 6th form pupils, historians, sociologists and philosophers of science, and indeed to anyone concerned about the place and role of science and technology in the modern world. First published in 1976, the book is even more relevant today than it was 33 years ago. This second edition has a new introduction in which the author explains how the book both exploits and develops Karl Popper’s philosophy. (shrink)
Even though evidence underdetermines theory, often in science one theory only is regarded as acceptable in the light of the evidence. This suggests there are additional unacknowledged assumptions which constrain what theories are to be accepted. In the case of physics, these additional assumptions are metaphysical theses concerning the comprehensibility and knowability of the universe. Rigour demands that these implicit assumptions be made explicit within science, so that they can be critically assessed and, we may hope improved. This leads to (...) a new conception of science, one which we need to adopt in order to solve the problem of induction. (shrink)