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The Punctuated Equilibrium of Scientific Change: A Bayesian Network Model

Grim, Patrick and Seidl, Frank and McNamara, Calum and Astor, Isabell and Diaso, Caroline (2022) The Punctuated Equilibrium of Scientific Change: A Bayesian Network Model. [Preprint]

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Punctuated Equilibrium of Scientific Change Revision forthcoming .docx - Accepted Version

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Abstract

Our scientific theories, like our cognitive structures in general, consist of propositions linked by evidential, explanatory, probabilistic, and logical connections. Those theoretical webs ‘impinge on the world at their edges,’ subject to a continuing barrage of incoming evidence (Quine 1951, 1953). Our credences in the various elements of those structures change in response to that continuing barrage of evidence, as do the perceived connections between them.
Here we model scientific theories as Bayesian nets, with credences at nodes and conditional links between them modelled as conditional probabilities. We update those networks, in terms of both credences at nodes and conditional probabilities at links, through a temporal barrage of random incoming evidence. Robust patterns of punctuated equilibrium, suggestive of ‘normal science’ alternating with ‘paradigm shifts,’ emerge prominently in that change dynamics. The suggestion is that at least some of the phenomena at the core of the Kuhnian tradition are predictable in the typical dynamics of scientific theory change captured as Bayesian nets under even a random evidence barrage.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Grim, Patrickpatrick.grim@stonybrook.edu
Seidl, Frankfcseid@umich.edu
McNamara, Calumcamcnam@umich.edu
Astor, Isabellastori@umich.edu
Diaso, Carolinecdiaso@umich.edu
Additional Information: forthcoming in Synthese
Keywords: Bayesian networks ˑ scientific change ˑ paradigm shifts ˑ punctuated equilibrium
Subjects: General Issues > Computer Simulation
General Issues > Formal Learning Theory
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory Change
Depositing User: Patrick Grim
Date Deposited: 18 May 2022 13:28
Last Modified: 18 May 2022 13:28
Item ID: 20622
Subjects: General Issues > Computer Simulation
General Issues > Formal Learning Theory
General Issues > Models and Idealization
General Issues > Structure of Theories
General Issues > Theory Change
Date: 1 May 2022
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20622

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