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Re: Is the whale a fish?

PostPosted: December 10th, 2016, 2:28 pm
by TheVat
I think the TSM issue can be revisited at the earlier thread from The Artist Formerly Known as AllShips, a couple of years ago. I vaguely recall tears and gnashing of teeth, but it did cover a lot of ground on the topic. I think a search on "scientific method" will pull it up.


I wound up thinking of TSM as an array of methods that can be tucked under the umbrella of "common sense, but the kind tempered with healthy skepticism of all perceptions...." E.g. well, the earth looks flat enough, but why do ships sink down that funny way at the horizon line?

Re: Is the whale a fish?

PostPosted: December 10th, 2016, 3:04 pm
by Eclogite
NoShips » Sat Dec 10, 2016 4:09 am wrote:2. Many insist The Scientific Method is real, but when I ask them what it is, everyone tells me something different. Bacon, Descartes, Newton, Mill, Whewell, Mach, Duhem, Poincare, Popper, Lakatos, and a hundred others have all written on The Scientific Method. But their "Method"s are not the same. Is one right and all the rest wrong?
You seem unaware that there is a difference between a method and a description of a method. Naturally different authors will have different perspectives, vocabularies, emphases and the like. Once again your failure to see a rather obvious point makes it look as if you are being deliberately obtuse.

Re: Is the whale a fish?

PostPosted: December 10th, 2016, 6:58 pm
by Scruffy Nerf Herder
NoShips » December 10th, 2016, 3:02 am wrote:Scruffy,

I'm reluctant to get embroiled and sticky in a protracted debate over the existence or non-existence of "The Scientific Method" (TSM) -- been there, done that -- although it is indeed a pleasure to discuss these matters with someone as knowledgeable on the topic as you obviously are. Just a few general remarks then.

We can pursue this however much or little you want. That being said, I have to admit I'm a bit bemused that you're saying that, when you were the one who initiated discussion regarding TSM.

NoShips » December 10th, 2016, 3:02 am wrote:Albert Einstein is quoted as saying: "The whole of science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking", which to me sounds pretty much right; there is no method or form of reasoning, that I'm aware of anyway, which is the sole property of science. Scientists reason like all the rest of us, though perhaps with a little more rigour than the mob, appealing to deduction, induction, inference to the best explanation, and so forth, as it suits their needs -- just like everyone else does.

Except that they don't, because it has always been carried out within a historical framework of an ever more refined knowledge base and epistemological tradition. Natural philosophy may appear to have great similarity with typical, cultural modes of reasoning, but what sets it apart is it's holistic trends and continual synthesis between analytic and synthetic, contingent and necessary, a priori and a posteriori, and realist and nominalist thought.

No other philosophical endeavor has been as holistic, or as inundated with synthesis.

NoShips » December 10th, 2016, 3:02 am wrote:The problem with specifying TSM has always been finding the right balance between permissiveness and restrictiveness: too permissive ("observe, form & test hypotheses") and it turns out the whole world is doing science, after all, who doesn't form and test hypotheses?; too restrictive (e.g. "perform experiments"), on the other hand, and much of what we intuitively would like to classify as bona fide science gets excluded.

The Method is what it is. What is restrictive is the context of the discipline and it's unique universe of discourse. TSM doesn't need any more than the previously illustrated bare bones to apply to a continuous and holistic conglomeration of natural philosophy.

NoShips » December 10th, 2016, 3:02 am wrote:Take, for example, Wolfhnd's remark above: "I was only making the point that any method of acquiring information through the senses to verify a hypothesis could be considered a scientific method.". But we ALL do this! The postman does it when the letterbox is jammed, the car mechanic does it when your engine won't start, and perhaps even Braininvat's cat does it when the foodbowl is not in its usual place. Now, given that the whole world is "acquiring information through the senses to verify a hypothesis" it makes as much sense to call it The Postman Method as it does to call it The Scientific Method, viz., no sense at all.

The postman isn't participating in a tradition which exemplifies epistemic synthesis; he is not attempting to add to an already existing aggregate knowledge base.

NoShips » December 10th, 2016, 3:02 am wrote:For TSM to do any useful work, as opposed to functioning merely as a slogan, I suggest it would have to be a fixed, timeless, unitary method.

This kind of attitude would be deleterious to epistemological discourse and refinement over time, and it appears to be a false dilemma because of the great success that has attended the discipline. "For" TSM to do any useful work? It already has!

NoShips » December 10th, 2016, 3:02 am wrote:Certainly science involves observing; so does being human or being an aardvark. Presumably all scientists breathe and undergo peristaltic contractions of the gut, too, just like everyone else. Given that it's not the sole property of the scientific endeavour, why bother mentioning it at all?

It is mentioned because it is fundamentally integral to the method. Oftentimes when presenting something logically it becomes necessary to present the obvious, this is required for formal validity and thus an appreciable level of rigor.

NoShips » December 10th, 2016, 3:02 am wrote:Again, you stretch the scope of the term "method" far beyond what I, and I hazard what most other competent English speakers, would countenance. Guessing is surely something we resort to in the absence of a reliable method.

Semantic distinctions in academically oriented discussions are, as a matter of course, bound to diverge from any normal patterns of speech within a culture. The former is concerned primarily with continuity and general utilitarian ends in discussion, and the latter has no overriding special concerns, it is merely a reflection of the public consciousness.

With that said, I wonder why you have been so perseverant in critiquing the hypothesis as a part of TSM when I never presented it as a component in the first place.

Re: Is the whale a fish?

PostPosted: December 10th, 2016, 7:28 pm
by NoShips
My God. What have I started? *panic*

Re: Is the whale a fish?

PostPosted: December 10th, 2016, 8:38 pm
by NoShips
Eclogite » December 11th, 2016, 4:04 am wrote:[quote="[url=] Once again your failure to see a rather obvious point makes it look as if you are being deliberately obtuse.

I resent that remark. The obtusitude is genuine.

Re: Is the whale a fish?

PostPosted: December 11th, 2016, 7:43 am
by NoShips

I've read everything you wrote with interest and respect (been watching the Godfather trilogy, so I know how important that is now). I don't want to pursue the TSM thing any further, even though it's been edifying.

One thing this site deserves credit for is that opposing and unorthodox viewpoints are allowed to be heard, even if not always appreciated. Thanks to all.