The aim and structure of applied research

Erkenntnis 38 (1):1 - 21 (1993)
Abstract
The distinction between basic and applied research is notoriously vague, despite its frequent use in science studies and in science policy. In most cases it is based on such pragmatic factors as the knowledge and intentions of the investigator or the type of research institute. Sometimes the validity of the distinction is denied altogether. This paper suggests that there are two ways of distinguishing systematically between basic and applied research: (i) in terms of the utilities that define the aims of inquiry, and (ii) by reference to the structure of the relevant knowledge claims. An important type of applied research aims at results that are expressed by techical norms (in von Wright's sense): if you wish to achieveA, and you believe you are in a situationB, then you should doX. This conception of design sciences allows us to re-evaluate many issues in the history, philosophy, and ethics of science.
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Ilkka Niiniluoto (forthcoming). Values in Design Sciences. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A.
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