Synthese 191 (12):2673-2693 (2014)

Authors
David Danks
Carnegie Mellon University
Erich Kummerfeld
Carnegie Mellon University
Abstract
One persistent challenge in scientific practice is that the structure of the world can be unstable: changes in the broader context can alter which model of a phenomenon is preferred, all without any overt signal. Scientific discovery becomes much harder when we have a moving target, and the resulting incorrect understandings of relationships in the world can have significant real-world and practical consequences. In this paper, we argue that it is common (in certain sciences) to have changes of context that lead to changes in the relationships under study, but that standard normative accounts of scientific inquiry have assumed away this problem. At the same time, we show that inference and discovery methods can “protect” themselves in various ways against this possibility by using methods with the novel methodological virtue of “diligence.” Unfortunately, this desirable virtue provably is incompatible with other desirable methodological virtues that are central to reliable inquiry. No scientific method can provide every virtue that we might want
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-014-0408-3
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References found in this work BETA

How the Laws of Physics Lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - Oxford University Press.
Causality: Models, Reasoning and Inference.Judea Pearl - 2000 - Cambridge University Press.
Causation, Prediction, and Search.Peter Spirtes, Clark Glymour & Richard Scheines - 1996 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 47 (1):113-123.

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