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What is Scientific Progress? Lessons from Scientific Practice

Mizrahi, Moti (2011) What is Scientific Progress? Lessons from Scientific Practice. 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 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
Depositing User: Dr. Moti Mizrahi
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2012 12:54
Last Modified: 18 Jul 2013 06:52
Item ID: 9335

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