Sunday, December 31, 2017

Summary: Chapter 3 in What Is This Thing Called Science? / Alan Chalmers

What Is This Thing Called Science? / Alan Chalmers
Chapter 3: Experiment

  • ·         Chalmers  asks Which facts are relevant to science is relative to the current state of development of that science
  • ·         Science poses the questions and ideally observations provide the answers
  • ·         Necessary to do experiments in order to isolate process under investigation and eliminate the effects of others
·         Production and updating of experimental results
  • ·         Experimental results are not straightforwardly given via the senses à need hard work, considerable know-how,  trial and error and exploitation of available technology
  • ·         Results can be faulty if the knowledge informing them is deficient
  • ·         Results can become outmoded because of advances in technology or rejected because of some advance in understanding
  • ·         Results are required not only to be adequate but also significant à significance depends on understanding of the situation, acceptability of results is theory-dependent and judgments are subject to change as scientific understanding develops
  • ·         The stock of experimental results regarded as an appropriate basis for science is constantly updated. Old experimental results are rejected as inadequate and replaced by more adequate ones. Why? Because
  • o    The experiment involved inadequate precautions against possible sources of interference
  • o   The measurements employed insensitive and outmoded methods of detection
  • o   The experiments came to be understood as incapable of solving the problem in hand
  • o    The questions they were designed to answer became discredited
  • ·         These observations undermine the notion that science rests on secure foundations
  • ·         Experimental results are theory-dependent, fallible and revisable
  • ·         Threat of circularity in the way scientific theories are alleged to be borne out of experiment
  • ·         All experiments will presume the truth of some theories to help judge that the set-up is adequate and the instruments are reading what they are meant to read. But these presupposed theories need not be identical to the theory under test, and it would 'seem reasonable to assume that a prerequisite of good experiment is to ensure that they are not

additional summaries in  philosophy of science

Some books about philosophy of science to consider: