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The Scientific Practice of Assessing Progress

Mizrahi, Moti (2011) The Scientific Practice of Assessing Progress. In: [2011] 3rd Biennial Conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (June 22-24, 2011; Exeter, UK).

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    Abstract

    In a recent debate about the nature of scientific progress, Alexander Bird and Darrell Rowbottom have argued for two competing accounts of progress. According to Bird, scientific progress consists in the accumulation of scientific knowledge. Rowbottom, on the other hand, thinks that truth alone is necessary for progress. Both appeal to intuitions in support of their views, and it seems that the debate has reached an impasse. In an attempt to avoid this stalemate, I propose that we abandon appeals to intuitions and turn to scientific practice instead. I propose to examine the institution of the Nobel Prize, where scientists award their peers for what they consider to be important contributions to science, in order to shed new light on the question of scientific progress. I discuss two case studies that illustrate what I call “the scientific practice of assessing progress.” This practice shows that scientists make evaluative judgments about scientific discoveries based on epistemic criteria. As far as scientists are concerned, progress is made when scientific discoveries contribute to the increase of scientific knowledge of the following sorts: empirical (factual), theoretical (inferential), practical, and methodological. I then propose that we should articulate an account of scientific progress that does justice to this scientific practice. I discuss one way of doing so, i.e., by abandoning the distinction between ‘knowing that’ and ‘knowing how’ and granting that know-how counts as scientific knowledge.


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    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (UNSPECIFIED)
    Keywords: aim of science, scientific knowledge, scientific practice, scientific progress, truth
    Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
    Specific Sciences > Physics > Cosmology
    General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
    Specific Sciences > Medicine
    General Issues > Theory Change
    General Issues > Values In Science
    Conferences and Volumes: [2011] 3rd Biennial Conference of the Society for Philosophy of Science in Practice (June 22-24, 2011; Exeter, UK)
    Depositing User: Dr. Moti Mizrahi
    Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2011 07:19
    Last Modified: 24 Sep 2012 08:54
    Item ID: 8516
    URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/8516

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