Data, Instruments, and Theory

Data, Instruments, and Theory: A Dialectical Approach to Understanding Science

ROBERT JOHN ACKERMANN
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 230
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztxrm
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  • Book Info
    Data, Instruments, and Theory
    Book Description:

    Robert John Ackermann deals decisively with the problem of relativism that has plagued post-empiricist philosophy of science. Recognizing that theory and data are mediated by data domains (bordered data sets produced by scientific instruments), he argues that the use of instruments breaks the dependency of observation on theory and thus creates a reasoned basis for scientific objectivity.

    Originally published in 1985.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5493-6
    Subjects: General Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. 1 LOGIC AND SCIENCE
    (pp. 3-34)

    Epistemologists can begin the task of analyzing knowledge from a variety of viewpoints. At a very abstract level, an epistemologist may attempt to prove the mere possibility of knowledge in an effort to confront skepticism. This effort founders on the problem that the path of proof is not clear unless at least some matters are assumed to be known and settled. Skepticism of a sufficiently brute variety is thus difficult to dislodge by a frontal assault that does not assume as known some of the matters that a resourceful skeptic will want to keep in epistemological abeyance. Perhaps because of...

  5. 2 SOCIAL STRUCTURE IN SCIENCE
    (pp. 35-73)

    One might suggest that the self-recognized best practice of scientists ought to be simply described, and this description offered as a characterization of scientific epistemology. Hanson has taken some interesting steps in this direction, but an immediate difficulty is apparent.¹ It must be assumed that not everything that even a great scientist does necessarily advances his or her best scientific work, no matter what the self-assessment of it is. An effort to eschew theory to the point where scientific practice is described but not evaluated, even the internal practice of scientific giants, points in the direction of a pile of...

  6. 3 SCIENCE AND NONSCIENCE
    (pp. 74-111)

    In the last two chapters, we have considered some philosophical and sociological attempts to capture the essence of scientific practice. It has been argued that these attempts have failed, and this chapter will propose that there is good reason for this failure. The plausibility of such attempts seems to rest on abstraction from a selection of settled instances of good scientific practice. If one restricts oneself to some clearly described cases of sound science, say the important inferences of recognized scientific greats, then one may hope to find a common core of rationality in these instances of practice. What must...

  7. 4 SCIENTIFIC FACTS AND SCIENTIFIC THEORIES
    (pp. 112-164)

    In earlier discussion, it has been observed that observation and thought at the growing edge of science are obscure and difficult to assess, quite in contrast to all forms of epistemological outlook, which rely on hard data, on the idea that nature’s properties can conveniently be read in observation or experiment. By the time that experimental results are written up in a research report, the original obscurities and misdirections may already be smoothed over so as to offer a logical account that will fit smoothly into a projected official history. Still, even the significance of the findings in a research...

  8. APPENDIX THE HUMAN SCIENCES
    (pp. 165-186)
  9. NOTES
    (pp. 187-200)
  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 201-214)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 215-216)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 217-217)