Talk:History of scientific method

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 Definition Development and elaboration of rules for scientific reasoning and investigation. [d] [e]

This topic provides a target for a link from Biology and History of biology .. David Tribe 15:47, 26 January 2007 (CST)

We can tell that with "What Links Here." ^^; Shanya Almafeta 16:00, 26 January 2007 (CST)

Im doing this to guide(hopefully suggest to) authors where specific content is needed. Look out for adding content especially relevant to biology. History of biology is empty and it would be good to create totally CZ content there. David Tribe 16:05, 26 January 2007 (CST)


? How influential was Pierce? Popper claimed not to have read him, so I wonder whether his work had as much impact as is suggested? Hobbes I guess needs mention. What about the role of the church? The church both promoted scientific advance while at the same time constraining it - I think the rebellion against religious dogma was an important stage in the evolution of scientific method, and echoes from Galileo to Darwin and TH Huxley. What about prehistoric science - the astronomical calculations involved in prehistoric constructions imply a very sophisticated systems of observation, recording and inductive reasoning from these. Just some thoughts.Gareth Leng 17:46, 26 January 2007 (CST)

I’m afraid that I know desperately little about Pierce, and I will have to remedy that before I can judge how influential he was.
Your question however reminds me of a previous discussion I have had concerning the direction this article should develop. I see there as being two approaches. The first, and perhaps the most obvious, is to document those moments from history that are decisive in shaping scientific method as we know it. The second approach, and that which I have favoured from the outset, is to compile a history of methodologists. SteveMcCluskey from Wikipedia argued for more-or-less this approach, and I can’t do better than quote him:
"I'm wondering what the balance should be in this article between the history of formal discussions of scientific method (e.g., those of Aristotle, Grosseteste, Descartes...) and the actual methods employed in scientific practice. My thought would be to emphasize the former; it's all too easy to claim that a scientific discovery implies the use of a particular scientific method, but it's really hard to demonstrate it. Witness, for example, the long disputes over the role of experiment in Galileo's discoveries which has only been unravelled by looking at his manuscript notes.
In a case like that, historians tend to go toward a complex interaction of experiment (or observation) with theoretical analysis. Any good discussion of actual scientific practice requires a rich body of evidence and investigations of their published and unpublished materials. We typically find that this has only been done for a few really major (and fairly recent) figures. That practical argument also points toward focusing on formal discussions of scientific method."
There are difficulties with both approaches. Those who are most influential in science do not necessarily espouse a clear and unambiguous methodology (e.g. Galileo). And for those who do, it’s not always obvious how closely they adhered to it (e.g. Newton’s disapproval of hypothetical reasoning). Also, to touch on the problem you are driving at, methodologists are not often influential. Indeed Bacon’s method, which was ostensibly successful enough to inspire the creation of the Royal Society, was all but ignored by its members both in spirit and in detail.
Even with these problems, I’m happier to document a few concrete ideas about method and how well they fared, than try to project our modern ideas about method backwards onto history and cut out those who have not added to it directly. --Christian Steinbach 07:06, 27 January 2007 (CST)

Sounds good, I wasn't suggesting leaving Pierce out, only querying the claim of influenceGareth Leng 12:43, 28 January 2007 (CST)

And it was a reasonable question deserving of a more focused reply. In cases like this, can we just remove content? I mean to say, when there is a question regarding the accuracy of a statement without citations. Most of this text came from Wikipedia, so we can't expect whoever first wrote it to cite sources. Or, instead we could cut back certain sections of the article to just a list of names as reminders (i.e. stubs) to do more detailed research. --Christian Steinbach 13:14, 28 January 2007 (CST)

Yes, we shouldn't hesitate to remove material that we're unsure of, and shouldn't feel obliged to pursue themes that we suspect are marginal. We have to enjoy this and believe in what we're doing after all. :) Gareth Leng 16:42, 31 January 2007 (CST)


Think it's reading very well. I've modified the remarks on Popper. I think he was quite adamantly contemptuous of all induction, and of any process designed merely to verify or confirm hypotheses. However he was not against speculation - far from it, he argued that a good hypothesis must be boldly, imaginatively speculative. I don't think that he objected to induction as a way of inspiring hopotheses, only as a sound way of using evidence to assess their vaidity.Gareth Leng 07:49, 5 February 2007 (CST)

I think we need to explain terms like induction and syllogism as we go here. I've had a go with induction, perhaps (probably) not well.Gareth Leng 11:34, 5 February 2007 (CST)

Nice work Gareth. I'll try and get around to writing something on syllogism. At the moment I'm reading around Newton and the Royal Society, so I expect I'll be making additions there first. --Christian Steinbach 17:59, 6 February 2007 (CST)

Chronological order

I expected Galileo to come before Descartes in the article. And Bacon to come before Galileo. Chronologically, I thought. At least I seem to recall Descartes referring to Galileo, but not the other way around. Daniel Demaret 02:37, 11 May 2007 (CDT)

I’m not sure why you removed your question Daniel, but I'm all keyed up to reply so I hope you don't mind my re-introducing it. My reasons for choosing this order are that all three figures were roughly contemporaneous and I wanted to show the development of ideas
Descartes displays a willingness to move away from Aristotelian science, but retains his logic and ultimately fails to make much progress. Galileo is more interested in promoting his scientific results than his method. Nevertheless he is a key figure in the development of scientific method. And finally Bacon recognises the practical importance of scientific method itself.
I find it interesting that we can take something as poorly defined as scientific method and say with some certainty that Bacon came closer to it than Descartes; that Galileo probably used it and that Bacon’s actual method is quite different in many respects to the thing we call 'scientific method' today. --Christian Steinbach 16:42, 11 May 2007 (CDT)
I removed my question when I saw the order made sense after all. Daniel Demaret 03:52, 12 May 2007 (CDT)
I find it more useful to think about a large collection of different scientific methods, useful for different purposes. Daniel Demaret 03:59, 12 May 2007 (CDT)