Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

7/1/2012 - 8/31/2012

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Evidence and Method in Science

FAIN: FT-59929-12

Peter Achinstein
Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD 21218-2608)

I propose to write a book raising the philosophical question: what is meant by scientific evidence and method? I will begin by expanding definitions of evidence I have proposed in other writings, and will then raise a new question: how are these definitions to be applied to actual scientific cases? To answer I will consider whether, for this purpose, the definitions must be supplemented by rules of a scientific method such as those of Isaac Newton. I will present a new way of interpreting Newton's four rules suggested by his actual practice, and meet objections to them raised by various historical and contemporary authors. Finally,I will substantially broaden the discussion of scientific methods by examining three methods advocated by the 19th century theoretical physicist James Clerk Maxwell that are different from Newton's, and that, contrary to standard contemporary views about scientific method, can each be used legitimately to achieve different important scientific goals.

Associated Products

Evidence and Method (Scientific Strategies of Isaac Newton and James C. Maxwell) (Book)
Title: Evidence and Method (Scientific Strategies of Isaac Newton and James C. Maxwell)
Author: Peter Achinstein
Abstract: What does it mean to say that some fact or phenomenon is evidence that a pypothesis is true? Various attempts have been made to define a concept of evidence useful for science. Theses can be classified in different ways. First, there is an objective-subjective classification. In the objective case the truth of statements of the form "e" is evidence that "h" does not depend on who believes or knows what. For example, whether the fact that the planets Mercury and Venus exhibit phases, like our moon, is evidence that these planets revolve about the sun, as Newton claimed in Book 3 of the Principia, is independent of whether anyone knows or believes anything.
Year: 2013
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780199921850
Copy sent to NEH?: Yes