Error

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What is error? How should it be defined?

Scientists, historians, and philosophers customarily speak of scientific errors. When doing so, they may be referring to error in an absolute sense as judged by the standards of our current knowledge. For example, the claim that the earth is stationary at the center of the universe is now regarded as an error. 1 However, they may also be referring to some criterion of error related to the historical agent at the time. It is therefore important to have a proper definition of the term, and the meaning intended.

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Paul Patton and Sarah Machado-Marques in 2019. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. Error (Machado-Marques-Patton-2021) is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available definition of the term. Error (Machado-Marques-Patton-2021) states "An epistemic agent is said to commit an error if the agent accepts a theory that should not have been accepted given that agent’s employed method."

History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of this question (it includes all the instances when the question was accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by a community):
CommunityAccepted FromAcceptance IndicatorsStill AcceptedAccepted UntilRejection Indicators
Scientonomy1 August 2021This is when Machado-Marques and Patton's Scientific Error and Error Handling that offered a definition of the term was published. This is a good indication that the question of how the term is to be defined is considered legitimate by the community.Yes

All Theories

The following theories have attempted to answer this question:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
Error (Machado-Marques-Patton-2021)An epistemic agent is said to commit an error if the agent accepts a theory that should not have been accepted given that agent’s employed method.2021
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Accepted Theories

The following theories have been accepted as answers to this question:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyError (Machado-Marques-Patton-2021)8 October 2021

Suggested Modifications

Here is a list of modifications concerning this topic:
ModificationCommunityDate SuggestedSummaryVerdictVerdict RationaleDate Assessed
Sciento-2021-0003Scientonomy1 August 2021Accept the definition of error, stating that an epistemic agent is said to commit an error if the agent accepts a theory that should not have been accepted given that agent’s employed method.AcceptedIt was agreed that the definition "succeeds in capturing the gist of the notion by explicitly stating that an error is always relative to an epistemic agent and to that agent's employed method".c1 c2 The importance of the concept of error for the Tree of Knowledge project was also noted. Specifically, it was argued that "we must be able to differentiate between those theories which were accepted in accordance with an agent’s employed method and those which were not" so that we can better understand the reasoning underlying individual transitions.c3 Finally, it was suggested that a further distinction between “instances of honest error and misconduct” might be worth pursuing.c48 October 2021

Current View

In Scientonomy community, the accepted definition of the term is Error (Machado-Marques-Patton-2021). It is defined as: "An epistemic agent is said to commit an error if the agent accepts a theory that should not have been accepted given that agent’s employed method."

Error (Machado-Marques-Patton-2021).png

There are several different senses in which one might take the concept of scientific error. One is the absolute sense. From our modern perspective, we might judge the geocentric Aristotelean-Ptolemaic cosmology's claim that the earth is stationary at the center of the universe as an error Allchin (2001). Read More

Related Topics

This topic is also related to the following topic(s):



References

  1. ^  Allchin, Douglas. (2001) The Epistemology of error. unpublished manuscript. Retrieved from http://douglasallchin.net/papers/epist'of.pdf..