Barseghyan (2015)

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Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.

Title The Laws of Scientific Change
Cover Barseghyan.H The.Laws.of.Scientific.Change.2015.png
Resource Type book
Author(s) Hakob Barseghyan
Year 2015
Publisher Springer
ISBN 9783319175959


This book systematically creates a general descriptive theory of scientific change that explains the mechanics of changes in both scientific theories and the methods of their assessment. It was once believed that, while scientific theories change through time, their change itself is governed by a fixed method of science. Nowadays we know that there is no such thing as an unchangeable method of science; the criteria employed by scientists in theory evaluation also change through time. But if that is so, how and why do theories and methods change? Are there any general laws that govern this process, or is the choice of theories and methods completely arbitrary and random?

Contrary to the widespread opinion, the book argues that scientific change is indeed a law-governed process and that there can be a general descriptive theory of scientific change. It does so by first presenting meta-theoretical issues, divided into chapters on the scope, possibility and assessment of theory of scientific change. It then builds a theory about the general laws that govern the process of scientific change, and goes into detail about the axioms and theorems of the theory.


Here are all the theories formulated in Barseghyan (2015):

TheoryTypeFormulationFormulated In
Outcome Not Accept (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionAn outcome of theory assessment which prescribes that the theory must not be accepted.2015
Scientific Change (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionAny change in the scientific mosaic, i.e. a transition from one accepted theory to another or from one employed method to another.2015
Demarcation Criteria (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionCriteria for determining whether a theory is scientific or unscientific.2015
Mosaic Merge (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA scientific change where two mosaics turn into one united mosaic.2015
Scientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA set of all accepted theories and employed methods.2015
Employed Method (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA method is said to be employed at time t if, at time t, theories become accepted only when their acceptance is permitted by the method.2015
Outcome Inconclusive (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionAn outcome of theory assessment which allows for the theory to be accepted but doesn't dictate so.2015
Compatibility Criteria (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionCriteria for determining whether two theories are compatible or incompatible.2015
Methodology (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA set of explicitly formulated rules of theory assessment.2015
Social Level (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionThe level of the scientific community and its mosaic of accepted theories and employed methods.2015
Acceptance Criteria (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionCriteria for determining whether a theory is acceptable or unacceptable.2015
Individual Level (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionThe level of the beliefs of the individual scientist about the world and the rules she employs in theory assessment.2015
Method (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA set of requirements for employment in theory assessment.2015
Mosaic Split (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA scientific change where one mosaic transforms into two or more mosaics.2015
Theory (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA set of propositions that attempt to describe something.2015
History of Scientific Change (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA descriptive discipline that attempts to trace and explain individual changes in the scientific mosaic.2015
Substantive Method (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA method which presupposes at least one contingent proposition.2015
Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA theory is said to be accepted if it is taken as the best available description of its object.2015
Scientonomy (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA descriptive discipline that attempts to uncover the actual general mechanism of scientific change.2015
Theory Use (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA theory is said to be used if it is taken as an adequate tool for practical application.2015
Outcome Accept (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionAn outcome of theory assessment which prescribes that the theory must be accepted.2015
Procedural Method (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA method which doesn't presuppose any contingent propositions.2015
Theory Pursuit (Barseghyan-2015)DefinitionA theory is said to be pursued if it is considered worthy of further development.2015
Response to the Argument from Bad Track Record (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe failures of past theories of scientific change do not imply the inevitability of future failure or that the enterprise in inherently unsound.2015
Theory Rejection theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveA theory becomes rejected only when other theories that are incompatible with the theory become accepted.2015
Dynamic Substantive Methods theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveAll substantive methods are necessarily dynamic.2015
The Third Law (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveA method becomes employed only when it is deducible from other employed methods and accepted theories of the time.2015
Pursuit as Distinct from Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptivePursuit is a distinct epistemic stance that is not reducible to or expressible through acceptance.2015
Underdetermined Method Change theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe process of method change is not necessarily deterministic: employed methods are by no means the only possible implementations of abstract requirements.2015
Epistemic Elements - Theories and Methods (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe two classes of elements that can undergo scientific change are accepted theories (as a set of propositions that attempts to describe something) and employed methods (as a set of criteria for theory evaluation).2015
Method Rejection theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveA method ceases to be employed only when other methods that are incompatible with the method become employed.2015
Theory Assessment Outcomes (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe possible outcomes of theory assessment are accept, not accept, and inconclusive.2015
Response to the Argument from Changeability of Scientific Method (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveScientonomy does not postulate the existence of a universal and unchanging method of science; thus the fact that methods of science are changeable is not detrimental to the prospects of scientonomy.2015
Static Procedural Methods theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveAll procedural methods are necessarily static.2015
The Second Law (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveIn order to become accepted into the mosaic, a theory is assessed by the method actually employed at the time.2015
Epistemic Stances Towards Theories - Acceptance Use and Pursuit (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe list of possible stances towards a theory includes acceptance, use, and pursuit.2015
Underdetermined Theory Change theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe process of theory change is not necessarily deterministic: there may be cases when both a theory's acceptance and its unacceptance are equally possible.2015
Asynchronism of Method Employment theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe employment of new methods can be but is not necessarily a result of the acceptance of new theories.2015
Non-Empty Mosaic theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveIn order for the process of scientific change to be possible, the mosaic must necessarily contain at least one element. Scientific change is impossible in an empty mosaic.2015
Response to the Argument from Nothing Permanent (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveIf there were indeed nothing permanent in science, then scientonomy would be impossible, however, scientonomy posits only that there are regularities in the process of scientific change.2015
Necessary Method theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveIn order for the process of scientific change to be possible, the mosaic must necessarily contain at least one employed method.2015
Epistemic Stances Towards Methods - Employment (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe list of possible stances towards a method is limited to employment.2015
Scientific Underdeterminism theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveTransitions from one state of the mosaic to another are not necessarily deterministic. Scientific change is not a strictly deterministic process.2015
Contextual Appraisal theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveTheory assessment is an assessment of a proposed modification of the mosaic by the method employed at the time.2015
The Second Law is a Tautology (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe second law is a tautology.2015
Possibility of Scientonomy (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveScientonomy is possible because the process of scientific change exhibits lawful general regularities.2015
The First Law (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveAn element of the mosaic remains in the mosaic unless replaced by other elements.2015
Methodology Can Shape Method theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveA methodology can shape employed methods, but only if its requirements implement abstract requirements of some other employed method.2015
Necessary Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveWhen two mutually incompatible theories satisfy the requirements of the current method, the mosaic necessarily splits in two.2015
Indicators of Method Employment (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveThe employed method of theory appraisal of a community at some time is not necessarily indicated by the methodological texts of that time and must be inferred from actual patterns of theory acceptance and other indirect evidence.2015
Synchronism of Method Rejection theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveA method becomes rejected only when some of the theories, from which it follows, also become rejected.2015
Response to the Argument from Social Construction (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveScience can be said to be socially constructed in several different senses (e.g. the contingency, nominalist, and reducibility theses). None of these preclude the possibility of scientonomy.2015
The Zeroth Law (Harder-2015)DescriptiveAt any moment of time, the elements of the scientific mosaic are compatible with each other.2015
Sociocultural Factors in Theory Acceptance theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveSociocultural factors can affect the process of theory acceptance insofar as it is permitted by the method employed at the time.2015
Split Due to Inconclusiveness theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveWhen a mosaic split is a result of the acceptance of only one theory, it can only be a result of inconclusive theory assessment.2015
The Theory of Scientific ChangeDescriptiveThe laws of scientific change govern the process of changes in a scientific mosaic, i.e. transitions from one theory to the next and one method to the next. The theory of scientific change explains many different aspects of the process such as theory acceptance and method employment, scientific inertia and compatibility, splitting and merging of scientific mosaics, scientific underdeterminism, changeability of scientific methods, role of sociocultural factors, and more.2015
Epistemic Agents - Communities (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveOnly a community can be the bearer of a scientific mosaic.2015
Possible Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveWhen a theory assessment outcome is inconclusive, a mosaic split is possible.2015
Indicators of Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveIndicators of theory acceptance are textual sources that represent the position of a scientific community regarding a theory at some time. Useful indicators are contextual to time and culture. They might include such things as encyclopedias, textbooks, university curricula, and minutes of association meetings.2015
Dogmatism No Theory Change theorem (Barseghyan-2015)DescriptiveIf an accepted theory is taken as the final truth, it will always remain accepted; no new theory on the subject can ever be accepted.2015
Scope of Scientonomy - Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeScientonomy ought to address the issue of how transitions from one accepted theory to another take place and what logic governs this evolution, and need not deal in questions of theory pursuit or use.2015
Scope of Scientonomy - All Fields (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeScientonomy should account for all changes to the scientific mosaic, regardless of which fields of inquiry they concern.2015
Scope of Scientonomy - All Scales (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeScientonomy should provide explanations of all kinds of changes to the scientific mosaic at all scales from the most minor transitions to the most major.2015
Scope of Scientonomy - Implicit and Explicit (Barseghyan-2017)NormativeA scientonomic theory ought to distinguish between explicit statements of methodology, and actual employed methods, which may sometimes be implicit. It ought to account for employed methods, whether they correspond with stated methodology, or are purely implicit.2017
Scope of Scientonomy - All Time Periods (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeScientonomy ought to account for all scientific changes for all time periods where a scientific mosaic can be found.2015
Scope of Scientonomy - Descriptive (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeScientonomy is a descriptive discipline whose main task is to explain the process of changes in the scientific mosaic. It is distinct from normative methodology, whose task is to evaluate and prescribe methods. The findings of scientonomy may be used in such normative evaluations, but scientonomy itself should not be expected to perform any normative functions.2015
Assessment of Scientonomy - Relevant Facts (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeAt the level of metatheory, the relevant evidence for assessing a scientonomic theory ought to be the facts relating to the state of the scientific mosaic and its transitions. The complete list of relevant phenomena that ought to be considered can only be identified for a specific scientonomic theory.2015
Scope of Scientonomy (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeScientonomy ought to explain changes in a scientific mosaic, including changes from one accepted theory to the next and one employed method to the next.2015
Scope of Scientonomy - Social (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeIt is implicit in the definition of scientonomy that it should explain changes in the scientific mosaic of accepted theories and employed methods, which are changes at the level of the scientific community. It need not account for changes at the level of the beliefs of individuals.2015
Scope of Scientonomy - Appraisal (Barseghyan-2015)NormativeScientonomy should describe and explain how changes in the mosaic of accepted scientific theories and employed methods take place. Any such instance of scientific change is a result of appraisal, which is a decision of the community to accept a proposed modification to the mosaic. Scientonomy must provide an account of this appraisal process. A theory of scientific change is not required to account for the process of theory construction.2015