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The Scientific Practice of Assessing Progress

Mizrahi, Moti (2011) The Scientific Practice of Assessing Progress. In: UNSPECIFIED.

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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
Depositing User: Dr. Moti Mizrahi
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2011 11:19
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2012 12:54
Item ID: 8516

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