Testing and discovery: Responding to challenges to digital philosophy of science

Metaphilosophy 53 (2-3):238-253 (2022)
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For all that digital methods—including network visualization, text analysis, and others—have begun to show extensive promise in philosophical contexts, a tension remains between two uses of those tools that have often been taken to be incompatible, or at least to engage in a kind of trade-off: the discovery of new hypotheses and the testing of already-formulated positions. This paper presents this basic distinction, then explores ways to resolve this tension with the help of two interdisciplinary case studies, taken from preregistration in contemporary science and the debate over whig history in the history of science. These case studies, the paper argues, refocus our attention from a mutually exclusive testing/discovery binary to the relationship between our background data or philosophical views and the empirical generalizations that we might draw from the data. Finally, it develops a set of three challenges for philosophers and corresponding avenues for future work that will, it is hoped, allow us to better justify our use of these methods.

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Author's Profile

Charles H. Pence
Université Catholique de Louvain

References found in this work

What is this thing called Philosophy of Science? A computational topic-modeling perspective, 1934–2015.Christophe Malaterre, Jean-François Chartier & Davide Pulizzotto - 2019 - Hopos: The Journal of the International Society for the History of Philosophy of Science 9 (2):215-249.
The Contextualist Revolution in Early Modern Philosophy.Christia Mercer - 2019 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 57 (3):529-548.
Hypothesis Testing in Scientific Practice: An Empirical Study.Moti Mizrahi - 2020 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 33 (1):1-21.

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