Discovery and Decision: Exploring the Metaphysics and Epistemology of Scientific Classification

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NAS: This clause was therefore later removed from the definition. The question of the source of the success of science has been at the core of philosophy since the beginning of modern science. If viewed as a matter of epistemology more generally, scientific method is a part of the entire history of philosophy.

Over that time, science and whatever methods its practioners may employ have changed dramatically. Today, many philosophers have taken up the banners of pluralism or of practice to focus on what are, in effect, fine-grained and contextually limited examinations of scientific method. Others hope to shift perspectives in order to provide a renewed general account of what characterizes the activity we call science. One such perspective has been offered recently by Hoyningen-Huene , , who argues from the history of philosophy of science that after three lengthy phases of characterizing science by its method, we are now in a phase where the belief in the existence of a positive scientific method has eroded and what has been left to characterize science is only its fallibility.

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First was a phase from Plato and Aristotle up until the 17 th century where the specificity of scientific knowledge was seen in its absolute certainty established by proof from evident axioms; next was a phase up to the mid th century in which the means to establish the certainty of scientific knowledge had been generalized to include inductive procedures as well. In the third phase, which lasted until the last decades of the 20 th century, it was recognized that empirical knowledge was fallible, but it was still granted a special status due to its distinctive mode of production.

What is epistemology? Introduction to the word and the concept

For Hoyningen-Huene, this is too negative a stance, and he therefore urges the question about the nature of science anew. Systematicity can have several different dimensions: among them are more systematic descriptions, explanations, predictions, defense of knowledge claims, epistemic connectedness, ideal of completeness, knowledge generation, representation of knowledge and critical discourse.


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Hence, what characterizes science is the greater care in excluding possible alternative explanations, the more detailed elaboration with respect to data on which predictions are based, the greater care in detecting and eliminating sources of error, the more articulate connections to other pieces of knowledge, etc. On this position, what characterizes science is not that the methods employed are unique to science, but that the methods are more carefully employed. Another, similar approach has been offered by Haack She sets off, similar to Hoyningen-Huene, from a dissatisfaction with the recent clash between what she calls Old Deferentialism and New Cynicism.

The Old Deferentialist position is that science progressed inductively by accumulating true theories confirmed by empirical evidence or deductively by testing conjectures against basic statements; while the New Cynics position is that science has no epistemic authority and no uniquely rational method and is merely just politics. Haack insists that contrary to the views of the New Cynics, there are objective epistemic standards, and there is something epistemologically special about science, even though the Old Deferentialists pictured this in a wrong way.

Instead, she offers a new Critical Commonsensist account on which standards of good, strong, supportive evidence and well-conducted, honest, thorough and imaginative inquiry are not exclusive to the sciences, but the standards by which we judge all inquirers. In this sense, science does not differ in kind from other kinds of inquiry, but it may differ in the degree to which it requires broad and detailed background knowledge and a familiarity with a technical vocabulary that only specialists may possess. Scientific Method First published Fri Nov 13, Overview and organizing themes 2.

Historical Review: Aristotle to Mill 3. Logic of method and critical responses 3. H-D as a logic of confirmation 3. Popper and falsificationism 3. Statistical methods for hypothesis testing 5. Method in Practice 5. Discourse on scientific method 6. Overview and organizing themes This entry could have been given the title Scientific Methods and gone on to fill volumes, or it could have been extremely short, consisting of a brief summary rejection of the idea that there is any such thing as a unique Scientific Method at all.

Historical Review: Aristotle to Mill Attempting a history of scientific method compounds the vast scope of the topic. Rule I: No more causes of natural things should be admitted than are both true and sufficient to explain their phenomena.

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Rule II: Therefore, the causes assigned to natural effects of the same kind must be, so far as possible, the same. Rule III: Those qualities of bodies that cannot be intended and remitted and that belong to all bodies on which experiments can be made should be taken as qualities of all bodies universally. Rule IV: In experimental philosophy, propositions gathered from phenomena by induction should be considered either exactly or very nearly true notwithstanding any contrary hypotheses, until yet other phenomena make such propositions either more exact or liable to exceptions.

Logic of method and critical responses The quantum and relativistic revolutions in physics in the early 20 th century had a profound effect on methodology.

H-D as a logic of confirmation The standard starting point for a non-inductive analysis of the logic of confirmation is known as the Hypothetico-Deductive H-D method. Method may therefore be relative to discipline, time or place Feyerabend also identified the aims of science as progress, but argued that any methodological prescription would only stifle that progress Feyerabend Statistical methods for hypothesis testing Despite the many difficulties that philosophers encountered in trying to providing a clear methodology of conformation or refutation , still important progress has been made on understanding how observation can provide evidence for a given theory.

Method in Practice Attention to scientific practice, as we have seen, is not itself new. However, Nersessian also emphasizes that creative model-based reasoning cannot be applied as a simple recipe, is not always productive of solutions, and even its most exemplary usages can lead to incorrect solutions. Nersessian 11 Thus, while on the one hand she agrees with many previous philosophers that there is no logic of discovery, discoveries can derive from reasoned processes, such that a large and integral part of scientific practice is the creation of concepts through which to comprehend, structure, and communicate about physical phenomena ….

Discourse on scientific method Despite philosophical disagreements, the idea of the scientific method still figures prominently in contemporary discourse on many different topics, both within science and in society at large. Further, referring to works of Popper and Hempel the court stated that ordinarily, a key question to be answered in determining whether a theory or technique is scientific knowledge … is whether it can be and has been tested.

One of the first and most influential attempts at defining misconduct in science was the US definition from that defined misconduct as fabrication, falsification, plagiarism, or other practices that seriously deviate from those that are commonly accepted within the scientific community. For example, the National Academy of Science stated in their report Responsible Science that it wishes to discourage the possibility that a misconduct complaint could be lodged against scientists based solely on their use of novel or unorthodox research methods.

NAS: 27 This clause was therefore later removed from the definition. Conclusion The question of the source of the success of science has been at the core of philosophy since the beginning of modern science. Bibliography Aikenhead, G. Arabatzis, T. Schickore and F. Steinle eds. Barnes, B.

Discovery and decision : exploring the metaphysics and epistemology of scientific classification

Hollis and S. Lukes eds. Bauer, H. Bechtel, W. Berkeley, G. Jesseph trans. Blachowicz, J. Bloor, D. Boyle, R. Bridgman, P. Burian, R. Carnap, R. Churchman, C. Darden, L. Douglas, H. Elliott, K. Feyerabend, P. Fisher, R. Series B Methodological , 17 1 : 69— Foster, K. Huber, , Judging Science. Fox Keller, E. Radder ed. Gilbert, G. Gimbel, S. Goodman, N. Haack, S.

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Harper, W. Hempel, C. Holmes, F. Howard, D. Richardson eds , Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, pp. Hoyningen-Huene, P. Howie, D. Hughes, R. Morgan and M. Morrison eds. Fate Norton and M. Norton eds. Humphreys, P. Kaufmann, W. Knorr-Cetina, K. Krohs, U. Kuhn, T. Laudan, L. Lenhard, J. Leonelli, S. Levi, I. Lipton, P. Marks, H. Mayo, D. McComas, W.