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63. Scientific Methodology


Subject Philosophy

Key-Topics methodologies, science

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631230205.2001.00066.x


Generically, “scientific methodology” denotes whatever generalized and systematically formulable procedures may be behind the successful pursuit of science. Since the ancient Greeks, people reflecting on science have been strongly attracted to the idea that there is a single comprehensive method employed in any genuinely scientific work. We will begin with this idealizing assumption, although we will later encounter ways in which it might be doubted. Questions about the nature of scientific methodology have arisen in three contexts. Most frequently, philosophers have raised them and have tried to provide answers on the basis of general metaphysical and epistemological theories. This sort of reflection has been the historically dominant approach from Plato through the logical empiricists (see logical empiricism ). But the issue of scientific methodology has also sometimes been a serious part of debates among scientists themselves. This has been particularly so at times of major theoretical upheaval. Since the middle of the nineteenth century, a third approach to scientific methodology has become very prominent. This is the effort to construct an account of scientific methodology from a study of the history of scientific practice (see history, role in the philosophy of science ). We should not expect to find sharp separations of these three contexts. Philosophical theories of scientific ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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