History of scientific method  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The history of scientific method considers changes in the methodology of scientific inquiry, as distinct from the history of science itself. The development of rules for scientific reasoning has not been straightforward; scientific method has been the subject of intense and recurring debate throughout the history of science, and eminent natural philosophers and scientists have argued for the primacy of one or another approach to establishing scientific knowledge. Despite the disagreements about approaches, scientific method has advanced in definite steps. Rationalist explanations of nature, including atomism, appeared both in ancient Greece in the thought of Leucippus and Democritus, and in ancient India, in the Nyaya, Vaisesika and Buddhist schools, while Charvaka materialism rejected inference as a source of knowledge in favour of an empiricism that was always subject to doubt. Aristotle pioneered scientific method in ancient Greece alongside his empirical biology and his work on logic, rejecting a purely deductive framework in favour of generalisations made from observations of nature.

Some of the most important debates in the history of scientific method center on: rationalism, especially as advocated by René Descartes; inductivism, which rose to particular prominence with Isaac Newton and his followers; and hypothetico-deductivism, which came to the fore in the early 19th century. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a debate over realism vs. antirealism was central to discussions of scientific method as powerful scientific theories extended beyond the realm of the observable, while in the mid-20th century some prominent philosophers argued against any universal rules of science at all.

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Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "History of scientific method" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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