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What is Scientific Progress? Lessons from Scientific Practice

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

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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 use thought experiments and appeal to intuitions in support of their views, and it seems fair to say that the debate has reached an impasse. In an attempt to avoid this stalemate, I propose to 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 the way in which scientists make judgments about progress. As far as scientists are concerned, progress is made when scientific discoveries contribute to the increase of scientific knowledge of the following sorts: empirical, theoretical, practical, and methodological. I then propose that we should articulate an account of scientific progress that does justice to the way in which scientists evaluate progress. I discuss one way of doing so, namely, 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: 24 Sep 2012 08:54
    Last Modified: 18 Jul 2013 02:52
    Item ID: 9335

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