David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Analysis 71 (2):222-232 (2011)
It is customary to distinguish experimental from purely observational sciences. The former include physics and molecular biology, the latter astronomy and palaeontology. Experiments involve actively intervening in the course of nature, as opposed to observing events that would have happened anyway. When a molecular biologist inserts viral DNA into a bacterium in his laboratory, this is an experiment; but when an astronomer points his telescope at the heavens, this is an observation. Without the biologist’s handiwork the bacterium would never have contained foreign DNA; but the planets would have continued orbiting the sun whether or not the astronomer had directed his telescope skyward. The observational/experimental distinction would probably be difficult to make precise 1, as the notion of an ‘intervention’ is not easily defined, but it is intuitively fairly clear, and is frequently invoked by scientists and historians of science. Experimentation, or ‘putting questions to nature’, is often cited as a hallmark of the modern scientific method, something that permitted the enormous advances of the last 350 years. And it is sometimes said that the social sciences lag behind the natural because controlled experiments cannot be done so readily in the former. Moreover in certain sciences, e.g. epidemiology, students are explicitly taught that experimental data is preferable to observational data, particularly for doing causal inference. So the distinction between observational and experimental science has quite wide currency, and is often regarded as methodologically significant. Surprisingly, mainstream philosophy of science has had rather little to say about the observational/experimental distinction. 2 For example, discussions of confirmation usually invoke a notion of ‘evidence’, to be contrasted with ‘theory’ or ‘hypothesis’; the aim is to understand how the evidence bears on the hypothesis. But whether this ‘evidence’ comes from observation or experiment generally plays no role in the discussion; this is true …
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
I. J. Good (1967). The White Shoe is a Red Herring. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 17 (4):322.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Henry E. Kyburg Jr (1985). The Confirmation of Quantitative Laws. Philosophy of Science 52 (1):1-22.
Robert Nola (1990). Some Observations on a Popperian Experiment Concerning Observation. Journal for General Philosophy of Science 21 (2):329-346.
Hugues Leblanc (1959). Professor Darlington and the Confirmation of Laws. Philosophy of Science 26 (4):364-366.
James Bogen (2002). Experiment and Observation. In Peter K. Machamer & Michael Silberstein (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. Cambridge: Blackwell. 128--148.
Patrick Maher (1996). Subjective and Objective Confirmation. Philosophy of Science 63 (2):149-174.
Dudley Shapere (1982). The Concept of Observation in Science and Philosophy. Philosophy of Science 49 (4):485-525.
Rafael González Del Solar & Luis Marone (2010). Observation and Experiment in Ecological Research. In Wenceslao González (ed.), New Methodological Perspectives on Observation and Experimentation in Science. Netbiblo.
Jared Darlington (1959). On the Confirmation of Laws. Philosophy of Science 26 (1):14-24.
David Gooding (1990). Theory and Observation: The Experimental Nexus. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 4 (2):131 – 148.
Wolfgang Spohn (2002). Laws, Ceteris Paribus Conditions, and the Dynamics of Belief. Erkenntnis 57 (3):373-394.
Aron Edidin (1988). From Relative Confirmation to Real Confirmation. Philosophy of Science 55 (2):265-271.
D. J. Bradley (2012). Four Problems About Self-Locating Belief. Philosophical Review 121 (2):149-177.
Emanuel A. Schegloff (2004). Experimentation or Observation? Of the Self Alone or the Natural World? Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (2):271-272.
R. G. Swinburne (1970). Choosing Between Confirmation Theories. Philosophy of Science 37 (4):602-613.
Peter Kosso (1992). Reading the Book of Nature: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Cambridge University Press.
Added to index2011-02-16
Total downloads126 ( #9,159 of 1,410,162 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #42,130 of 1,410,162 )
How can I increase my downloads?