Verification and variation: Patterns of experimentation in investigations of galvanism in germany, 1790-1800
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophy of Science 64 (4):84 (1997)
Based on the historical case of galvanic experimentation in Germany, I identify five types of experimentation which explored and shaped the new phenomenon rather than tested theoretical predictions. Verification evaluated initial reports of Galvani's phenomenon. Simplification reduced the experimental protocol to the fewest and most basic steps. Optimization found experimental conditions that magnified the observed effect. Exploration tested a wide variety of metals, animals or configurations. Application modified the experiment to address unresolved related problems. Attempts to derive laws of the phenomenon or establish its underlying causes were unsuccessful primarily due to the great variability of the experimental results
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