Progress in the last few decades in what is widely known as “Chaos Theory” has plainly advanced understanding in the several sciences it has been applied to. But the manner in which such progress has been achieved raises important questions about scientificmethod and, indeed, about the very objectives and character of science. In this presentation, I hope to engage my audience in a discussion of several of these important new topics.
This paper considers objections to Popper's views on scientificmethod. It is argued that criticism of Popper's views, developed by Kuhn, Feyerabend, and Lakatos, are not too damaging, although they do require that Popper's views be modified somewhat. It is argued that a much more serious criticism is that Popper has failed to provide us with any reason for holding that the methodological rules he advocates give us a better hope of realizing the aims of science than any (...) other set of rules. Consequently, Popper cannot adequately explain why we should value scientific theories more than other sorts of theories ; which in turn means that Popper fails to solve adequately his fundamental problem, namely the problem of demarcation. It is suggested that in order to get around this difficulty we need to take the search for explanations as a fundamental aim of science. (shrink)
Some think that issues to do with scientificmethod 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)
In this paper I examine a controversy ongoingwithin current Deweyan philosophy of educationscholarship regarding the proper role and scopeof science in Dewey's concept of inquiry. Theside I take is nuanced. It is one that issensitive to the importance that Dewey attachesto science as the best method of solvingproblems, while also sensitive to thosestatements in Dewey that counter a wholesalereductivism of inquiry to scientificmethod. Iutilize Dewey's statements regarding the placeaccorded to inquiry in aesthetic experiences ascharacteristic of his (...)method, as bestconceived. (shrink)
This paper examines, from the point of view of a philosopher of science, what it is that introductory science textbooks say and do not say about 'scientificmethod'. Seventy introductory texts in a variety of natural and social sciences provided the material for this study. The inadequacy of these textbook accounts is apparent in three general areas: (a) the simple empiricist view of science that tends to predominate; (b) the demarcation between scientific and non-scientific inquiry and (...) (c) the avoidance of controversy-in part the consequence of the tendency toward textbook standardization. Most importantly, this study provides some evidence of the gulf that separates philosophy of science from science instruction, and examines some important aspects of the demarcation between science and non-science-an important issue for philosophers, scientists, and science educators. (shrink)
This paper analyses the relationship between Hobbes's theory of language and his theory of science and method. It is shown that Hobbes, at least in his Computatio sive Logica (1655), deviates in some measure from the traditional (Aristotelian) model of language. In this model speech is considered to be a fairly unproblematic expression of thought, which itself is independent of language. Basing himself on a nominalist account of universals, Hobbes states that the demonstration or assertion of universal propositions presupposes (...) speech (more especially, the use of names as marks). This insight turns out to be essential for Hobbes's (rationalist) view of scientificmethod. (shrink)
Husserl claimed that all theoretical scientific concepts originate in and are valid in reference to 'life-world' experience and that scientific traditions preserve the sense and validity of such concepts through unitary and cumulative change. Each of these claims will, in turn, be sympathetically laid out and assessed in comparison with more standard characterizations of scientificmethod and conceptual change as well as the history of physics, concerning particularly the challenge they may pose for scientific realism. (...) The Husserlian phenomenological framework is accepted here without defense, and hence the present project is limited to the task of asking what can and cannot be accommodated within that framework on its own terms. (shrink)
In developing an "internal" sociology of science, the sociology of scientific knowledge drew on Wittgensteins later philosophy to reinterpret traditional epistemological topics in sociological terms. By construing scientific reasoning as rule following within a collective, sociologists David Bloor and Harry Collins effectively blocked outside criticism of a scientific field, whether scientific, philosophical, or political. Ethnomethodologist Michael Lynch developed an alternative, Wittgensteinian reading that similarly blocked philosophical or political critique, while also disallowing analytical appeals to historical or (...) institutional contexts. I criticize these Wittgensteinian sociologies and argue for the historical and contemporary significance of methodological criticisms of scientific practice that conjoin epistemological and political categories. I consider two such cases briefly: the Baconian criticism of Scholastic science in the early Royal Society and the criticism of AIDS drug testing protocols by activists. Key Words: Wittgenstein sociology of scientific knowledge ethnomethodology scientificmethod interpretive sociology. (shrink)
I. A. Kieseppä''s criticism of the methodological use of the theory of verisimilitude, and D. B. Resnik''s arguments against the explanation of scientificmethod by appeal to scientific aims are critically considered. Since the notion of verisimilitude was introduced as an attempt to show that science can be seen as a rational enterprise in the pursuit of truth, defenders of the verisimilitude programme need to show that scientific norms can be interpreted (at least in principle) as (...) rules that try to increase the degree of truthlikeness of scientific theories. This possibility is explored for several approaches to the problem of verisimilitude. (shrink)
Traditional attempts to delineate the distinctive rationality of modern science have taken it for granted that the purpose of empirical research is to test judgments. The choice of concepts to use in those judgments is therefore seen either a matter of indifference (Popper) or as important choice which must be made, so to speak, in advance of all empirical research (Carnap). I argue that scientificmethod aims precisely at empirical testing of concepts, and that even the simplest (...) class='Hi'>scientific ex- periment or observation results in conceptual change. (shrink)
This is not how science works. But science does work, and here award-winning teacher and scholar Steven Gimbel provides students the tools to answer for themselves this question: What actually is the scientificmethod?
1. Introduction : humanity's urge to understand -- 2. Elements of scientific thinking : skepticism, careful reasoning, and exhaustive evaluation are all vital. Science Is universal -- Maintaining a critical attitude. Reasonable skepticism -- Respect for the truth -- Reasoning. Deduction -- Induction -- Paradigm shifts -- Evaluating scientific hypotheses. Ockham's razor -- Quantitative evaluation -- Verification by others -- Statistics : correlation and causation -- Statistics : the indeterminacy of the small -- Careful definition -- Science at (...) the frontier. When good theories become ugly -- Stuff that just does not fit -- 3. Christopher Columbus and the discovery of the "Indies" : it can be disastrous to stubbornly refuse to recognize that you have falsified your own hypothesis -- 4. Antoine Lavoisier and Joseph Priestley both test the befuddling phlogiston theory : junking a confusing hypothesis may be necessary to clear the way for new and productive science -- 5. Michael Faraday discovers electromagnetic induction but fails to unify electromagnetism and gravitation : it is usually productive to simplify and consolidate your hypotheses -- 6. Wilhelm Röntgen intended to study cathode rays but ended up discovering X-rays : listen carefully when Mother Nature whispers in your ear : she may be leading you to a Nobel Prize -- 7. Max Planck, the first superhero of quantum theory, saves the universe from the ultraviolet catastrophe : assemble two flawed hypotheses about a key phenomenon into a model that fits experiment exactly and people will listen to you even if you must revolutionize physics -- 8. Albert Einstein attacks the problem "Are atoms real?" from every angle : solving a centuries-old riddle in seven different ways can finally resolve it -- 9. Niels Bohr models the hydrogen atom as a quantized system with compelling exactness, but his later career proves that collaboration and developing new talent can become more significant than the groundbreaking research of any individual -- 10. Conclusions, status of science, and lessons for our time. Conclusions from our biographies -- What thought processes lead to innovation? -- Is the scientist an outsider? -- The status of the modern scientific enterprise -- Lessons for our time -- Can the scientificmethod be applied to public policy? -- Why so little interest in science? -- Knowledge is never complete. (shrink)
Artificial Intelligence and ScientificMethod examines the remarkable advances made in the field of AI over the past twenty years, discussing their profound implications for philosophy. -/- Taking a clear, non-technical approach, Donald Gillies focuses on two key topics within AI: machine learning in the Turing tradition and the development of logic programming and its connection with non-monotonic logic. Demonstrating how current views on scientificmethod are challenged by this recent research, he goes on to suggest (...) a new framework for the study of logic. Finally, Professor Gillies draws on work by such seminal thinkers as Bacon, Gödel, Popper, Penrose, and Lucas to address the hotly contested question of whether computers might become intellectually superior to human beings. (shrink)
What is it to be scientific? Is there such a thing as scientificmethod? 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 scientificmethod. 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 scientificmethod 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 scientificmethod 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)
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)
The evolution of John von Neumann's scientific interests and a study of his writings show that von Neumann increasingly supported an empirical, computational method. This is in stark contrast with the extant view of von Neumann as a pure theorist.
The basic task of the essay is to exhibit science as a rational enterprise. I argue that in order to do this we need to change quite fundamentally our whole conception of science. Today it is rather generally taken for granted that a precondition for science to be rational is that in science we do not make substantial assumptions about the world, or about the phenomena we are investigating, which are held permanently immune from empirical appraisal. According to this standard (...) view, science is rational precisely because science does not make a priori metaphysical presuppositions about the world forever preserved from possible empirical refutation. It is of course accepted that an individual scientist, developing a new theory, may well be influenced by his own metaphysical presuppositions. In addition, it is acknowledged that a successful scientific theory, within the context of a particular research program, may be protected for a while from refutation, thus acquiring a kind of temporary metaphysical status, as long as the program continues to be empirically progressive. All such views unite, however, in maintaining that science cannot make permanent metaphysical presuppositions, held permanently immune from objective empirical evaluation. According to this standard view, the rationality of science arises, not from the way in which new theories are discovered, but rather from the way in which already formulated theories are appraised in the light of empirical considerations. And the fundamental problem of the rationality of science—the Humean problem of induction— concerns precisely the crucial issue of the rationality of accepting theories in the light of evidence. In this essay I argue that this widely accepted standard conception of science must be completely rejected if we are to see science as a rational enterprise. In order to assess the rationality of accepting a theory in the light of evidence it is essential to consider the ultimate aims of science. This is because adopting different aims for science will lead us, quite rationally, to accept different theories in the light of evidence. I argue that a basic aim of science is to explain. At the outset science simply presupposes, in a completely a priori fashion, that explanations can be found, that the world is ultimately intelligible or simple. In other words, science simply presupposes in an a priori way the metaphysical thesis that the world is intelligible, and then seeks to convert this presupposed metaphysical theory into a testable scientific theory. Scientific theories are only accepted insofar as they promise to help us realize this fundamental aim. At once a crucial problem arises. If scientific theories are only accepted insofar as they promise to lead us towards articulating a presupposed metaphysical theory, it is clearly essential that we can choose rationally, in an a priori way, between all the very different possible metaphysical theories that can be thought up, all the very different ways in which the universe might ultimately be intelligible. For holding different aims, accepting different metaphysical theories conceived of as blueprints for future scientific theories will, quite rationally, lead us to accept different scientific theories. Thus it is only if we can choose rationally between conflicting metaphysical blueprints for future scientific theories that we will be in a position to appraise rationally the acceptability of our present day scientific theories. We thus face the crucial problem: How can we choose rationally between conflicting possible aims for science, conflicting metaphysical blueprints for future scientific theories ? It is only if we can solve this fundamental problem concerning the aims of science that we can be in a position to appraise rationally the acceptability of existing scientific theories. There is a further point here. If we could choose rationally between rival aims, rival metaphysical blueprints for future scientific theories, then we would in effect have a rational method for the discovery of new scientific theories! Thus we reach the result: there is only a rational method for the appraisal of existing scientific theories if there is a rational method of discovery. I shall argue that the aim-oriented theory of scientific inquiry to be advocated here succeeds in exhibiting science as a rational enterprise in that it succeeds in providing a rational procedure for choosing between rival metaphysical blueprints: it thus provides a rational, if fallible, method of discovery, and a rational method for the appraisal of existing scientific theories—thus resolving the Humean problem. In Part I of the essay I argue that the orthodox conception of science fails to exhibit science as a rational enterprise because it fails to solve the Humean problem of induction. The presuppositional view advocated here does however succeed in resolving the Humean problem. In Part II of the essay I spell out the new aim-oriented theory of scientificmethod that becomes inevitable once we accept the basic presuppositional viewpoint. I argue that this new aim oriented conception of scientificmethod is essentially a rational method of scientific discovery, and that the theory has important implications for scientific practice. (shrink)
I believe that the long-neglected ideas on science and scientificmethod 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)
This historical compendium investigates scientific methods conceived between the Renaissance and the nineteenth century. Beginning with attacks on Scholasticism and the rist of the New Science, the authors explain the roles of both major andminor figures in describing scientific methods. Although the chapters are interrelated and contain explicit comparisons, each chapter is a complete study in itself. The authors' emphasis on writing for the non-specialist and their liberal use of primary sources make this an outstanding textbook.
In this three-part paper, my concern is to expound and defend a conception of science, close to Einstein's, which I call aim-oriented empiricism. I argue that aim-oriented empiricsim has the following virtues. (i) It solve the problem of induction; (ii) it provides decisive reasons for rejecting van Fraassen's brilliantly defended but intuitively implausible constructive empiricism; (iii) it solves the problem of verisimilitude, the problem of explicating what it can mean to speak of scientific progress given that science advances from (...) one false theory to another; (iv) it enables us to hold that appropriate scientific theories, even though false, can nevertheless legitimately be interpreted realistically, as providing us with genuine , even if only approximate, knowledge of unobservable physical entities; (v) it provies science with a rational, even though fallible and non-mechanical, method for the discovery of fundamental new theories in physics. In the third part of the paper I show that Einstein made essential use of aim-oriented empiricism in scientific practice in developing special and general relativity. I conclude by considering to what extent Einstein came explicitly to advocate aim-oriented empiricism in his later years. (shrink)
Over the past thirty years Paul Feyerabend has developed an extremely distinctive and influentical approach to problems in the philosophy of science. The most important and seminal of his published essays are collected here in two volumes, with new introductions to provide an overview and historical perspective on the discussions of each part. Volume 1 presents papers on the interpretation of scientific theories, together with papers applying the views developed to particular problems in philosophy and physics. The essays in (...) volume 2 examine the origin and history of an abstract rationalism, as well as its consequences for the philosophy of science and methods of scientific research. Professor Feyerabend argues with great force and imagination for a comprehensive and opportunistic pluralism. In doing so he draws on extensive knowledge of scientific history and practice, and he is alert always to the wider philosophical, practical and political implications of conflicting views. These two volumes fully display the variety of his ideas, and confirm the originality and significance of his work. (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.
Scientific standards cannot be separated from the practice of science and their use presupposes immersion in this practice. The demand to base political action on scientific standards therefore leads to elitism. Democratic relativism, on the other hand, demands equal rights for all traditions or, conversely, a separation between the state and any one of the traditions it contains; for example, it demands the separation of state and science, state and humanitarianism, state and Christianity. Democratic relativism defends the rights (...) of people to live as they see fit; it is also a most efficient means of probing traditions (such as ?scientific? medicine) that happen to be in the centre of attention: it has ethical as well as epistemological advantages. (shrink)
Nuyen (this journal, vol 20, no. 4) contrasts "objectivity" in the natural science with a relation of "understanding" between knower and object in the human sciences. I present a different approach to natural science--a perspective in which the objects of the natural sciences are constructions that arise out of the interaction of the knower and the knowable world. From this perspective, it is inappropriate to to distinguish between the natural sciences and the human sciences in the way Nuyen does. Instead, (...) the crucial point is that if the human sciences refrain from abstractions and generalizations in favor of the particularities of objects and situations, then they must employ some other way to constitute a separation between theory and data in order for the work to be "scientific" as that term is used in regard to the natural sciences. (shrink)
There is a common concern in some of the writings of Husserl and Gadamer. It is the concern to defend the legitimacy and dignity of the "human sciences." They argue from the methodological standpoint that the method of the natural sciences leaves out the relationship between the object of inquiry and the inquirer. This relationship plays a key role in "understanding," which is the concem of the human sciences. In explicating it, Husserl and Gadamer stress the role of the (...) community and the lifeworld as the context of understanding. Parallels to Husserl's and Gadamer's ideas can be found in analytical philosophy. (shrink)
This volume presents an interconnected set of sixteen essays, four of which are previously unpublished, by Allan Gotthelf--one of the leading experts in the study of Aristotle's biological writings. Gotthelf addresses three main topics across Aristotle's three main biological treatises. Starting with his own ground-breaking study of Aristotle's natural teleology and its illuminating relationship with the Generation of Animals, Gotthelf proceeds to the axiomatic structure of biological explanation (and the first principles such explanation proceeds from) in the Parts of Animals. (...) After an exploration of the implications of these two treatises for our understanding of Aristotle's metaphysics, Gotthelf examines important aspects of the method by which Aristotle organizes his data in the History of Animals to make possible such a systematic, explanatory study of animals, offering a new view of the place of classification in that enterprise. In a concluding section on 'Aristotle as Theoretical Biologist', Gotthelf explores the basis of Charles Darwin's great praise of Aristotle and, in the first printing of a lecture delivered worldwide, provides an overview of Aristotle as a philosophically-oriented scientist, and 'a proper verdict' on his greatness as scientist. (shrink)
The process of constructing mathematical models is examined and a case made that the construction process is an integral part of the justification for the model. The role of heuristics in testing and modifying models is described and some consequences for scientific methodology are drawn out. Three different ways of constructing the same model are detailed to demonstrate the claims made here.
Abstract The paper is an attempt to interpret Imre Lakatos's methodology of scientific research programmes (MSRP) on the basis of his mathematical methodology, the method of proofs and refutations (MPR). After sketching MSRP and MPR and analysing their relationship to Popper's and Poly a's work, I argue that MSRP was originally conceived as a methodology in the same sense as MPR. The most conspicuous difference between the two, namely that MSRP is fundamentally backward?looking, whereas MPR is primarily forward?looking, (...) is due to the fact that Lakatos could not carry out his project in the full sense. I also explain why he could not. (shrink)
The work that helped to determine Paul Feyerabend's fame and notoriety, Against Method,stemmed from Imre Lakatos's challenge: "In 1970 Imre cornered me at a party. 'Paul,' he said, 'you have such strange ideas.
Laudan and Cantor maintain that there exists a methodological gulf between 19th century wave theorists of light, who employed a method of hypothesis, and 18th and 19th century particle theorists, who were inductivists. This paper examines how in fact wave theorists typically argued for their theory, in order to see to what extent their reasoning corresponds to the method of hypothesis or to inductivism in sophisticated versions of these doctrines offered by Whewell and Mill. It also examines how, (...) given the methodology they actually employed, wave theorists could in principle deal with anomalies to their theory, particularly with phenomena, such as dispersion, which their theory could not explain. (shrink)
The dominant figure of mid-nineteenth-century British political economy, John Stuart Mill exercised a lasting influence on philosophical thought. This compact statement of Mill's doctrines starts with an informative Introduction by editor Ernest Nagel and proceeds with extracts from A System of Logic that clarify Mill's processes of reasoning. The following five-part treatment draws upon the philosopher's major works to consider names and propositions; reasoning; induction; operations subsidiary to induction; and the logic of the moral sciences. Selections from An Examination of (...) Sir William Hamilton's Philosophy conclude the text, along with an essay on the definition of political economy and its methods of investigation. (shrink)
Professor [H.W.] Sheldon's critique of contemporary naturalism as professed in the volume Naturalism and the Human Spirit consists of one central "accusation": naturalism is materialism pure and simple. This charge is supported by his further claim that since the scientificmethod naturalists espouse for acquiring reliable knowledge of nature is incapable of yielding knowledge of the mental or spiritual "nature" for the naturalist is definitionally limited to "physical nature." He therefore concludes that instead of being a philosophy which (...) can settle age-old conflicts between materialism and idealism, naturalism is no more than a partisan standpoint, and contributes no new philosophical synthesis. ... (shrink)
Philosophy, from the earliest times, has made greater claims, and achieved fewer results, than any other branch of learning. In Our Knowledge of the External World , Bertrand Russell illustrates instances where the claims of philosophers have been excessive, and examines why their achievements have not been greater.
Mainstream philosophy of science has embraced an “empiricist” approach to scientificmethod. To be slightly more precise, I venture that most philosophers of science today would endorse the view that experience is the source of most scientific knowledge. The aim of this essay will be to challenge the consensus, by showing how we cannot and should not abandon all elements of the “rationalist” tradition, a tradition often identified with philosophers such as Descartes. There are several elements frequently (...) identified with “rationalist” science (Stump, 2005): questioning of sense experience, the attempt to rethink the “metaphysical” foundations of one’s science, using either thought experiment, or appealing to demonstrative arguments purporting to establish ‘necessary’ truths, often using either mathematics or geometry, and appeal to “virtues” not usually considered “strictly empirical,” such as simplicity. This essay explores the effective deployment of such considerations in the history and current practice of science. (shrink)
Professor Karl Popper has had a great deal to endure: “expositions” of his ideas which were mere travesties, “refutations” which he had already answered, by anticipation, or which entirely missed the point at issue. One can easily understand why, when he came to publish an English translation of his Logik der Forschung, he decided to keep to the original text; it should at last be clear exactly what he had—and had not—said in 1934. Yet his thinking had by no means (...) stood still since that time; quite naturally, too, he wished to emphasize as much. (shrink)
This paper is a supplement to, and provides a proof of principle of, Kuhn vs. Popper on Criticism and Dogmatism in Science: A Resolution at the Group Level. It illustrates how calculations may be performed in order to determine how the balance between different functions in science—such as imaginative, critical, and dogmatic—should be struck, with respect to confirmation (or corroboration) functions and rules of scientificmethod.
A conventional experiment is proposed to resolve the realist/idealist debate by challenging the premise that double blinding and an attitude of objectivity in general deter the corroborative influence which preconceptions exert on perception. The possibility that objectivity enhances corroboration would not contradict empirical findings, and would account for the success of science.