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Philosophy of PseudoscienceReconsidering the Demarcation Problem$
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Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226051796

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226051826.001.0001

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Science and the Messy, Uncontrollable World of Nature

Science and the Messy, Uncontrollable World of Nature

Chapter:
(p.183) 10 Science and the Messy, Uncontrollable World of Nature
Source:
Philosophy of Pseudoscience
Author(s):

Carol E. Cleland

Sheralee Brindell

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226051826.003.0011

This chapter argues that doubts about the scientific status of the field sciences often rest on mistaken preconceptions about the nature of the evaluative relation between empirical evidence and hypothesis or theory, namely, that it is some sort of formal logical relation. It argues that there is a potentially more fruitful approach to understanding the nature of the support offered by empirical evidence to scientific hypotheses. The first part of the chapter briefly reviews the traditional philosophical take on the scientific method in order to clarify its most serious problems. It shows that these problems are greatly exacerbated when science moves from the artificially controlled environment of the laboratory to the messy uncontrollable world of nature. The second part ferrets out some highly general, causal components in the methodological reasoning of nonhistorical field scientists. It argues that differences in patterns of evidential reasoning in the experimental sciences versus the field sciences, and in the historical versus nonhistorical field sciences, seem tailored to pervasive causal differences in their epistemic situations.

Keywords:   field sciences, nature, empirical evidence, scientific methodology

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