Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 E - Experiment

Experiment: A contrived situation in which it is tried to establish what nature does in certain specific circumstances.

Galileo was the first man to insist clearly and firmly that scientific method was based on a combination of the axiomatic method and systematic experimenting, namely by testing whether the logical consequences that followed from one's axiomatic assumptions and attempts at explanation.

Proper scientific experiments are carefully contrived so as to exclude all manner of bias and to control whatever factors are known to be relevant, and should be repeatable by (qualified) others: Experimental claims that cannot be repeated by impartial qualified others are taken to be mistakes or flukes (if not frauds, that also happen sometimes) rather than facts.

Every real science has its own methodology geared to its own subject, of which the main aim is to arrive at a good set-up for proper experimental testing of the theories of that science.

It is an interesting fact that the scientific method, thought it was practiced before Galileo, only became clearly articulated in the beginning of the 17th Century - since when science has progressed enormously, and taken over much of the field that before its rise belonged to philosophy or theology, with questions that were mostly answered by speculation or logomachy, but without careful experimental testing.

Though science over the last four centuries has been enormously succesful in finding new explanations, new facts and things, new natural laws, and in helping to surrect a tremendous technology, there still are some problems about its methods, that can be gleaned by the reference below.

Even so, the main moral and intellectual problem for real science and real scientists is that so many folks who are not scientists insist that they do not need to know real science to "know" what the real truth is - for as a cognitive and moral effort to improve the human situation no human efforts or actions have been more succesful.


See also: Bayesian Conditionalization, Confirmation, Evidence, Explanation, Induction, Invariance, Irrelevance, Problem of Induction, Newton's Rules of Reasoning, Science, Scientific Method, Theory


Cohen & Nagel, Galileo, Groot, Hawkins, Nagel, Toraldo di Franca, Stegmüller, Toraldo, Wood & Martin

 Original: Aug 2, 2008                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top