The experimenters' regress: From skepticism to argumentation

Harry Collins' central argument about experimental practice revolves around the thesis that facts can only be generated by good instruments but good instruments can only be recognized as such if they produce facts. This is what Collins calls the experimenters' regress. For Collins, scientific controversies cannot be closed by the 'facts' themselves because there are no formal criteria independent of the outcome of the experiment that scientists can apply to decide whether an experimental apparatus works properly or not.No one seems to have noticed that the debate is in fact a rehearsal of the ancient philosophical debate about skepticism. The present article suggests that the way out of radical skepticism offered by the so-called mitigated skeptics is a solution to the problem of consensus formation in science.
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DOI 10.1016/S0039-3681(01)00032-2
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References found in this work BETA
John Hardwig (1991). The Role of Trust in Knowledge. Journal of Philosophy 88 (12):693-708.
Allan Franklin (1994). How to Avoid the Experimenters' Regress. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 25 (3):463-491.

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