The Value of Surprise in Science

Erkenntnis:1-20 (forthcoming)

Abstract

Scientific results are often presented as ‘surprising’ as if that is a good thing. Is it? And if so, why? What is the value of surprise in science? Discussions of surprise in science have been limited, but surprise has been used as a way of defending the epistemic privilege of experiments over simulations. The argument is that while experiments can ‘confound’, simulations can merely surprise (Morgan 2005). Our aim in this paper is to show that the discussion of surprise can be usefully extended to thought experiments and theoretical derivations. We argue that in focusing on these features of scientific practice, we can see that the surprise-confoundment distinction does not fully capture surprise in science. We set out how thought experiments and theoretical derivations can bring about surprises that can be disruptive in a productive way, and we end by exploring how this links with their future fertility.

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,805

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2021-03-24

Downloads
51 (#226,379)

6 months
15 (#54,288)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Steven French
University of Leeds
Alice Murphy
Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München

References found in this work

Representing and Intervening.Ian Hacking - 1984 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 35 (4):381-390.
Against Method.P. Feyerabend - 1975 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 26 (4):331-342.
Representing and Intervening.Ian Hacking - 1987 - Revue de Métaphysique et de Morale 92 (2):279-279.
Thought Experiments.Roy A. Sorensen - 1992 - Oxford and New York: Oup Usa.

View all 35 references / Add more references

Citations of this work

Imagination in Science.Alice Murphy - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (6):e12836.
The Aesthetics of Scientific Experiments.Milena Ivanova - 2021 - Philosophy Compass 16 (3):e12730.
What is a Beautiful Experiment?Milena Ivanova - forthcoming - Erkenntnis:1-19.
Imaginative Resistance in Science.Valentina Savojardo - forthcoming - Foundations of Science:1-19.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Experiments, Simulations, and Epistemic Privilege.Emily C. Parke - 2014 - Philosophy of Science 81 (4):516-536.
The Argument From Surprise.Adrian Currie - 2018 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 48 (5):639-661.
Experiments Versus Models: New Phenomena, Inference and Surprise.Mary S. Morgan - 2005 - Journal of Economic Methodology 12 (2):317-329.
Probability and Proximity in Surprise.Tomoji Shogenji - 2020 - Synthese 198 (11):10939-10957.
Surprise, Recipes for Surprise, and Social Influence.Jeffrey Loewenstein - 2019 - Topics in Cognitive Science 11 (1):178-193.
Surprise: A Circular Dynamic of Multi-Directional Verbalization.Natalie Depraz - 2018 - Journal of French and Francophone Philosophy 26 (1):21-37.
Are Computer Simulations Experiments? And If Not, How Are They Related to Each Other?Claus Beisbart - 2018 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 8 (2):171-204.
How Can Computer Simulations Produce New Knowledge?Claus Beisbart - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (3):395-434.