In Making Scientific Discoveries: Interdisciplinary Reflections. Paderborn, Deutschland: pp. 9-53 (2022)

Jan G. Michel
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Jan G. Michel argues that we need a philosophy of scientific discovery. Before turning to the question of what such a philosophy might look like, he addresses two questions: Don’t we have a philosophy of scientific discovery yet? And do we need one at all? To answer the first question, he takes a closer look at history and finds that we have not had a systematic philosophy of scientific discovery worthy of the name for over 150 years. To answer the second question, Michel puts forward three arguments that show the importance of a philosophy of scientific discovery. Briefly, he arrives at the following answers: No, we don’t yet have a philosophy of scientific discovery, and yes, we definitely need one. To remedy this shortcoming, Michel analyzes the concept of discovery, leading him to the insight that scientific discoveries have an underlying structure with certain structural features. Some of these features may be important but not indispensable to scientific discovery processes; these include eureka moments, serendipities, joint discoveries, special science funding, and others. In addition, Michel identifies three indispensable structural features which he examines in detail and which he places in a picture with a certain dynamics according to which the process of making scientific discoveries can be seen as a path, leading us from finding and acceptance to knowledge.
Keywords Philosophy of scientific discovery  Philosophy of science  Philosophy of language  History of science  Physics  Biology  Archaeology  Environmental studies  Theology  Sociology of science
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