Tampering with Nature: Empirical Methodology and Experimental Onto-Epistemology


James A. Marcum
Department of Philosophy, Baylor University, Waco, TX, USA

Series: World Philosophy
BISAC: PHI000000

After the historiographic revolution in science studies of the 1960’s, philosophers began to envision science as a product of historical and sociological forces and not as the result of the “scientific method.” While the importance of experimentation is recognized in recent science studies, the full significance for its role in scientific practice generally remains overlooked. Therefore, attempts to reconstruct narratives of scientific practice are often incomplete. In this book, the author proposes onto-epistemological roles for experimentation in terms of an empirical methodology, for analyzing experiments in scientific practice.

To realize the significance of experimentation for scientific practice requires a close inspection of the experiments designed and performed by scientists and of the data and observations obtained from those experiments. To that end, the experiments critical for the discovery of thrombin by Buchanan and Schmidt in the nineteenth century and for the discovery of heparin by McLean and Howell in the twentieth century are reconstructed in detail. These case studies provide a tangible framework for engaging in a series of philosophical reflections on the onto-epistemological roles of experimentation for an empirical methodology. From the analysis of the reconstruction of this historical narrative, the author identifies several characteristics of experimentation—controllability, reproducibility, plasticity, and fecundity—that are important for understanding how scientific practice leads to the discovery of novel entities within the natural world and ultimately to the growth of scientific knowledge and scientific progress.

In addition, the notion of horizon for scientific practice, representing particularly the experimental and theoretical limits within which scientists ply their trade, is introduced to facilitate the analysis of scientific discovery. And the notion of progressive horizon, in which the practice of scientists intersects dynamically with “the way nature is,” is also introduced to analyze scientific progress. Finally, the notion of empirical methodology, a notion that may be applicable more generally to other experimental sciences, is introduced to further the analysis of the onto-epistemological roles of experimentation in the case studies reconstructed herein. Briefly, the methodology indicates how experiments mediate between theories and natural phenomena, for experiments form the intersection between theory and nature. That mediation represents a “tampering” with the natural world, in which the measure of a natural phenomenon is taken through experimental activity. (Imprint: Nova Biomedical )

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables



Chapter 1. Introduction

Part I. Historical Narrative

Chapter 2. The Nature of Thrombin and Blood Coagulation

Chapter 3. The Regulation of Thrombin: The Discovery of Heparin

Part II. Philosophical Reflections

Chapter 4. A Notion of Experimentation

Chapter 5. A Notion of Scientific Discovery

Chapter 6. A Notion of Scientific Progress

Chapter 7. Tampering with Nature



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