Indicators of Theory Acceptance
What types of historical markers can be taken as indicative that a theory was accepted by an agent at a given time?
The question of whether a theory is accepted into the scientific mosaic of some agent at a particular time must be determined by historical evidence. How can observational scientonomists establish that such-and-such a theory was indeed accepted by a certain epistemic agent at a certain time? Thus, it is important to establish what sort of historical markers can serve as evidence of theory acceptance.
In Scientonomy, the accepted answer to the question is:
- Indicators 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.
|Community||Accepted From||Acceptance Indicators||Still Accepted||Accepted Until||Rejection Indicators|
|Scientonomy||1 January 2016||This is when the community accepted its first answer to this question, Indicators of Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan 2015), which indicates that the question is itself considered legitimate.||Yes|
|Indicators of Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015)||Indicators 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|
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|Community||Theory||Accepted From||Accepted Until|
|Scientonomy||Indicators of Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015)||1 January 2016|
Indicators of Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015) states: "Indicators 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."
Indicators of theory acceptance are historical facts that provide evidence indicating that a scientific theory was accepted by some community at a particular time. The opinions of individual scientists are not clear indicators of the acceptance of a theory by a community. Possible indicators are sources that typically indicate the opinion of an entire scientific community such as encyclopedias, textbooks, university curricula and the minutes of association meetings. 1
Beginning in the eighteenth century, encyclopedias were a collective undertaking and thus typically good indicators of what was accepted at the time of their publication. However, until recently they were only published sporadically, and so generally can't provide a thorough description of successive states of the mosaic. Modern encyclopedias are a collective undertaking. Before the eighteenth century they were written by either a single author, or an isolated small group. In such cases they may contain theories championed by the author but not necessarily accepted by the community.
Textbooks are typically written with the objective of presenting the current state of knowledge in their field and thus often a good gauge of accepted thinking. But because they are often written by a single or small number of authors, they should be treated with caution.
University curricula similarly typically have the goal of exposing students to an accepted body of knowledge in a field. However, theories that are not considered the best available theory are sometimes nonetheless taught. Classical physics is taught to modern physics students not because it is deemed the best available description of its subject matter but because it is useful for many practical applications and is simpler and easier to understand than the more advanced treatments using quantum physics or general relativity theory. Items can also sometimes be included in a curriculum out of historical interest rather than current value.
Minutes of association meetings can also sometimes be indicative of the stance of a community towards a particular theory. However, minutes can often provide only a fragmentary indication of what was accepted and what was not.
No indicators of theory acceptance are universal or conclusive. Indicators are contextual to their time and cultural circumstances.
This topic is also related to the following topic(s):
- Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.