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Rethinking the Role of Theory in Exploratory Experimentation

David, Colaço (2018) Rethinking the Role of Theory in Exploratory Experimentation. [Preprint]

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Abstract

To explain their role in discovery and contrast them with theory-driven research, philosophers of science have characterized exploratory experiments in terms of what they lack: namely, that they lack direction from what have been called “local theories” of the target system or object under investigation. I argue that this is incorrect: it’s not whether or not there is direction from a local theory that matters, but instead how such a theory is used to direct an experiment that matters. Appealing to contemporary exploratory experiments that involve the use of experimental techniques – specifically, examples where scientists explore the interaction of neural activity and human behavior by magnetically stimulating brains – I argue that local theories of a target system can inform auxiliary hypotheses in exploratory experiments, which direct these experiments. These examples illustrate how local theories can direct the exploration of target systems where researchers do not aim to evaluate these theories.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
David, Colaçodjc60@pitt.edu
Keywords: Exploratory Experimentation; Experimental Techniques; Theory; Auxiliary Hypotheses
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
General Issues > Technology
Depositing User: David Colaço
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2018 18:06
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2018 18:06
Item ID: 15178
Subjects: General Issues > Experimentation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
General Issues > Technology
Date: 18 October 2018
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15178

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