Authors
Ann-Sophie Barwich
Indiana University, Bloomington
Abstract
Empirical success is a central criterion for scientific decision-making. Yet its understanding in philosophical studies of science deserves renewed attention: Should philosophers think differently about the advancement of science when they deal with the uncertainty of outcome in ongoing research in comparison with historical episodes? This paper argues that normative appeals to empirical success in the evaluation of competing scientific explanations can result in unreliable conclusions, especially when we are looking at the changeability of direction in ongoing investigations. The challenges we encounter arise from the inherent dynamics of disciplinary and experimental objectives in research practice. In this paper we discuss how these dynamics inform the evaluation of empirical success by analyzing three of its requirements: data accommodation, instrumental reliability, and predictive power. We conclude that the assessment of empirical success in developing inquiry is set against the background of a model’s interactive success and prospective value in an experimental context. Our argument is exemplified by the analysis of an apparent controversy surrounding the model of a quantum nose in research on olfaction. Notably the public narrative of this controversy rests on a distorted perspective on measures of empirical success.
Keywords Philosophy of Science  Empirical Success  Model Choice  Scientific Controversy  Science Communication  Biochemistry
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2018.02.005
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The Scientific Image.Michael Friedman - 1982 - Journal of Philosophy 79 (5):274-283.
The Scientific Image.William Demopoulos & Bas C. van Fraassen - 1982 - Philosophical Review 91 (4):603.

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