Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015)
This is an answer to the question Synchronism vs. Asynchronism of Method Employment that states "The employment of new methods can be but is not necessarily a result of the acceptance of new theories."
The pre-scientonomic history of synchronism versus asynchronism of method employment originates in the thought of Larry Laudan. In his critique of Thomas Kuhn’s synchronicism of change in methods and theories, Laudan purports that change in method/methodology need not presuppose theory changes.2 For Laudan, anomalies can be addressed by methodological or ontological changes instead of theory modifications. Although for Kuhn “change is simultaneous rather than sequential,” Laudan provides many counterexamples depicting the opposite state of affairs.3 For instance, he cites the methodological shift in science from Bacon-Hume-Newton inductivism as evidence of asynchronism. The inductivism of the seventeenth century precluded the postulation of unobservable entities. However, between 1800 to 1860 acceptance of the existence of such entities became widespread, as evident in the writings of Whewell, Peirce, Helmholtz, Mach, Darwin, Hertz, and others.3 According to Laudan, this methodological change across scientific domains cannot be linked to the theoretical revolutions of the time. This point evidences the independence of methodological change from the status of accepted theories.
Furthermore, additional proponents of the asynchronism of method employment include Dudley Shapere.
|1 January 2016
|The theorem became de facto accepted by the community at that time together with the whole theory of scientific change.
Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015) is an attempt to answer the following question: Which factors influence the process of method employment? Do new methods become accepted simultaneously with the acceptance of a theory?
See Synchronism vs. Asynchronism of Method Employment for more details.
The theorem states that the employment of a method is not necessarily simultaneous with the acceptance of a new theory. Being a direct logical consequence of the third law, the theorem highlights the fact that some methods are a result of the implementation of some abstract requirements of other methods. In this way, a new method can be devised as a means of resolving a particular creative gap, and subsequently become employed long after the acceptance of the theory that led to the employment of the abstract method.
The gist of this theory can be illustrated by the following examples.
Barseghyan presents a historical example showing that scientific change is not necessarily a synchronous process.
These are three different implementations of the same abstract requirement, which were, importantly, all devised and employed at different times.
When it comes to acquiring data about such minute objects as molecules or living cells, the unaided human eye is virtually useless. This proposition yields, among other things, an abstract requirement that, when counting the number of cells, the resulting value is acceptable only if it is obtained with an “aided” eye. This abstract requirement has been implemented in a variety of different ways. First, there is the counting chamber method where the cells are placed in a counting chamber – a microscope slide with a special sink – and the number of cells is counted manually under a microscope. There is also the plating method where the cells are distributed on a plate with a growth medium and each cell gives rise to a single colony. The number of cells is then deduced from the number of colonies. In addition, there is the flow cytometry method where the cells are hit by a laser beam one by one and the number of cells is counted by means of detecting the light reflected by the cells. Finally, there is the spectrophotometry method where the number of cells is obtained by means of measuring the turbidity in a spectrophotometer.1
The Creative Gap
One key corollary of the third law is put forth in Barseghyan (2015). "Scientific change is not necessarily a synchronous process: changes in theories are not necessarily simultaneous with changes in methods".1
Suppose a new theory becomes accepted and some new abstract constraints become imposed. In this case, we can say that the acceptance of a theory resulted in the employment of a new method and the employment of a new method was synchronous with the acceptance of a new theory. But we also know that there is the second scenario of method employment, where a method implements some abstract requirements of other employed methods. In this scenario, there is a certain creative gap between abstract requirements that follow directly from accepted theories and methods that implement these abstract requirements. Devising a new method that would implement abstract requirements takes a fair amount of ingenuity and, therefore, there are no guarantees that these abstract requirements will be immediately followed by a new concrete method. In short, changes in methods are not necessarily simultaneous with changes in theories.1
No reasons are indicated for this theory.
If a reason supporting this theory is missing, please add it here.
Questions About This Theory
There are no higher-order questions concerning this theory.
If a question about this theory is missing, please add it here.
- Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.
- Andersen, Hanne and Hepburn, Brian. (2015) Scientific Method. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/scientific-method/.
- Laudan, Larry. (1984) Science and Values. University of California Press.