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Scientific method

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Q093-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 13, 2024, from

Article Summary

Procedures for attaining scientific knowledge are known as scientific methods. These methods include formulating theories and testing them against observation or experiment. Ancient and medieval thinkers called any systematic body of knowledge a ‘science’, and their methods were aimed at knowledge in general. According to the most common model for scientific knowledge, formulated by Aristotle, induction yields universal propositions from which all knowledge in a field can be deduced. This model was refined by medieval and early modern thinkers, and further developed in the nineteenth century by Whewell and Mill.

As Kuhn observed, idealized accounts of scientific method must be distinguished from descriptions of what scientists actually do. The methods of careful observation and experiment have been in use from antiquity, but became more widespread after the seventeenth century. Developments in instrument making, in mathematics and statistics, in terminology, and in communication technology have altered the methods and the results of science.

Citing this article:
Hatfield, Gary. Scientific method, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Q093-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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