The Philosophical Grammar of Scientific Practice

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Abstract:

I seek to provide a systematic and comprehensive framework for the description and analysis of scientific practice—a philosophical grammar of scientific practice, ‘grammar’ as meant by the later Wittgenstein. I begin with the recognition that all scientific work, including pure theorizing, consists of actions, of the physical, mental, and ‘paper-and-pencil’ varieties. When we set out to see what it is that one actually does in scientific work, the following set of questions naturally emerge: who is doing what, why, and how? More specifically, we must arrive at some coherent philosophical accounts of the following elements of scientific practice: the agent—free, embodied, and constantly in second-person interactions with other agents; the purposes and proximate aims of the agent; types of activities that the agent engages in; ontological principles necessarily presumed for the performance of particular activities; instruments and other resources that the agent pulls together for the performance of each activity. After sketching the general framework, I also give some illustrative contrasts between the more traditional descriptions of scientific practice and the kind of descriptions enabled by the proposed framework.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02698595.2011.605244

Publication date: September 1, 2011

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