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Recharacterizing Scientific Phenomena

Colaço, David (2020) Recharacterizing Scientific Phenomena. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In this paper, I investigate how researchers evaluate their characterizations of scientific phenomena. Characterizing phenomena is an important – albeit often overlooked – aspect of scientific research, as phenomena are targets of explanation and theorization. As a result, there is a lacuna in the literature regarding how researchers determine whether their characterization of a target phenomenon is appropriate for their aims. This issue has become apparent for accounts of scientific explanation that take phenomena to be explananda. In particular, philosophers who endorse mechanistic explanation suggest that the discovery of the mechanisms that explain a phenomenon can lead to its recharacterization. However, they fail to make clear how these explanations provide warrant for recharacterizing their explananda phenomena. Drawing from cases of neurobiological research on potentiation phenomena, I argue that attempting to explain a phenomenon may provide reason to suspend judgment about its characterization, but this cannot provide warrant to recharacterize it if researchers cannot infer a phenomenon’s characteristics from this explanation. To explicate this, I go beyond explanation – mechanistic or otherwise – to analyze why and how researchers change their epistemic commitments in light of new evidence.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Colaço, David
Keywords: scientific phenomena
Subjects: General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Depositing User: David Colaço
Date Deposited: 27 Feb 2020 04:59
Last Modified: 27 Feb 2020 04:59
Item ID: 16950
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13194-0...
Subjects: General Issues > Evidence
General Issues > Experimentation
General Issues > Explanation
Specific Sciences > Neuroscience
Date: 3 February 2020
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/16950

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