Starting with some illustrative examples, I develop a systematic account of a specific type of experimentation--an experimentation which is not, as in the "standard view", driven by specific theories. It is typically practiced in periods in which no theory or--even more fundamentally--no conceptual framework is readily available. I call it exploratory experimentation and I explicate its systematic guidelines. From the historical examples I argue furthermore that exploratory experimentation may have an immense, but hitherto widely neglected, epistemic significance.
: The increasing attention on experiment in the last two decades has led to important insights into its material, cultural and social dimensions. However, the role of experiment as a tool for generating knowledge has been comparatively poorly studied. What questions are asked in experimental research? How are they treated and eventually resolved? And how do questions, epistemic situations, and experimental activity cohere and shape each other? In my paper, I treat these problems on the basis of detailed studies of (...) research practice. After presenting several cases from the history of electricity—Dufay, Ampère, and Faraday—I discuss a specific type of experiment—the "exploratory experiment"—and analyze how it works in concept formation. I argue that a fuller understanding of experiment can only be achieved by intertwining historical and philosophical perspectives in such a way that the very separation of the two become questioable. (shrink)
The authors provide an overview of philosophical discussions about the roles of experiment in science. First, they cover two approaches that took shape under the heading of “new experimentalism” in the 1980s and 1990s. One approach was primarily concerned with questions about entity realism, robustness, and epistemological strategies. The other has focused on exploratory experiments and the dynamic processes of experimental research as such, highlighting its iterative nature and drawing out the ways in which such research is grounded in experimental (...) systems, concepts and operational definitions. Second, the authors look at more recent philosophical work on the epistemology of causal inference, in particular highlighting discussions in the philosophy of the behavioral and social sciences, concerning the extrapolation from laboratory contexts to the world. (shrink)
Combining philosophical and historical scholarship, the articles in this volume focus on scientific concepts, rather than theories, as units of analysis. They thereby contribute to a growing literature about the role of concepts in scientific research. The authors are particularly interested in exploring the dynamics of research; they investigate the ways in which scientists form and use concepts, rather than in what the concepts themselves represent. The fields treated range from mathematics to virology and genetics, from nuclear physics to psychology, (...) from technology to present-day neural engineering. The volume contains articles by Vassi Kindi, Miles MacLeod, Ingo Brigandt, Friedrich Steinle, Dirk Schlimm, Theodore Arabatzis, Uljana Feest, Corinne Bloch, Mieke Boon, Nancy Nersessian, and Hanne Andersen. (shrink)
Faraday's view of the mutual relation of speculative theories and laws of nature implies that there should be a procedure, leading from speculative considerations to a system of facts and laws in which theories do no longer play any role. In order to make out the degree in which Faraday's claims correspond to his practice, the way in which he gains an explanation of Arago's effect is analyzed. The thesis is proposed that he indeed has a procedure of leaving theories (...) aside. It is intimately connected with certain methodological guidelines of his experimentation. (shrink)
The more unknowns there are and the newer a field of research is, the less well defined are the experiments. Once a field has been sufficiently worked over so that the possible conclusions are more or less limited to existence or nonexistence, and perhaps to quantitative determination, the experiments will become increasingly better defined. But they will no longer be independent, because they are carried along by a system of earlier experiments and decisions, which is generally the situation in physics (...) and chemistry today. Such a system will then become self-evident know-how itself. We will no longer be aware of its application and effect (Fleck 1935 (1980), p. 114, translation slightly altered from Fleck 1979, p. 86, original emphasis). (shrink)
Introduces a series of articles which deals with the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science.; Introduces a series of articles which deals with the relationship between history of science and philosophy of science.
[First paragraph] A widespread image of science is founded upon a basic dichotomy: there are empirical facts, obtained by observation and experiment, on the one hand, and theories and explanations, obtained by reasoning, speculation and creativity, on the other. Whether scientific reasoning should take the inductive path, or the hypothetical-deductive approach, has long been a mat-ter of debate, but the basic dichotomist picture has been left untouched. And there is the concomitant idea that theories may come and go, while facts (...) form the stable, unshaken and ever growing foundation of science. This picture is often advanced in science education, for example in experimental physics courses and their textbooks. Additionally, the use of lan-guage reinforces that picture: we say that we "discover" facts (such as the cosmic micro-wave background, the variability of species), while we create, form and eventually discard theories (like the standard model of elementary particles, string theory, theories of develop-mental biology and so on). Something that has been "discovered" is attributed a different status than something that has been created and formed. (shrink)
That science is more than the unilinear application of general theories to specific empirical circumstances is, one hopes, no longer something that is controversial or requires detailed argument. To be sure, there were times when devising universally applicable theories was seen as the most worthy task of science, with less lofty activities such as experimentation and scientific modeling being relegated to the underbelly of “proper science.” Arguing for a pluralistic recognition of the diversity of scientific practices, methods, and goals, might—at (...) least on the pages of this journal—amount to preaching to the converted. Yet, once the diversity and heterogeneity of science is acknowledged, the real work only starts:... (shrink)
The more unknowns there are and the newer a field of research is, the less well defined are the experiments. Once a field has been sufficiently worked over so that the possible conclusions are more or less limited to existence or nonexistence, and perhaps to quantitative determination, the experiments will become increasingly better defined. But they will no longer be independent, because they are carried along by a system of earlier experiments and decisions, which is generally the situation in physics (...) and chemistry today. Such a system will then become self-evident know-how itself. We will no longer be aware of its application and effect, p. 114, translation slightly altered from Fleck 1979, p. 86, original emphasis). (shrink)
Knowledge about colour it properties, methods of fabrication, meanings, and uses has always been the purview of a wide range of individuals, from painters and architects to dyers, printers, pigment manufacturers, chemists. This volume discusses how different communities interacted with respect to knowledge and practices surrounding colour, thus contributing to a better understanding of an important current in cultural history.".