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Accept a new formulation of the third law to make it clear that employed methods do not have to be deducible from all accepted theories and employed methods but only from some.

The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Zoe Sebastien on 3 September 2016.1 The modification was accepted on 21 January 2017.


Currently, a theory is defined as a set of propositions that attempts to describe something. This definition excludes normative propositions from the scope of the TSC. Normative theories, such as those of methodology or ethics, have been excluded since including them appears to give rise to a destructive paradox first identified by Joel Burkholder. There are many historical cases where employed scientific methods are known to conflict with professed methodologies. This seems to violate the third and zeroth laws of scientific change. By the third law, employed methods are deducible from accepted theories. But, this seems impossible in cases where methodologies and methods conflict. Under the zeroth law, all elements in the scientific mosaic are compatible with one another. But, that seems to be clearly not the case if methodologies and methods conflict with one another.


Theories To Accept

  • The Third Law (Sebastien-2016): A method becomes employed only when it is deducible from some subset of other employed methods and accepted theories of the time.

The Third Law Sebastien 2016.png

Theories To Reject

Questions Answered

This modification attempts to answer the following question(s):


The modification was accepted on 21 January 2017. There was a community consensus that "the new formulation of the third law does bring an additional level of precision to our understanding of the mechanism of method change".c1 The community agreed that the new formulation "makes a clarification that, on its own, warrants this modification's acceptance".c2 Importantly, it was also agreed that the modification "solves the paradox of normative propositions".c3

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  1. ^  Sebastien, Zoe. (2016) The Status of Normative Propositions in the Theory of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 1, 1-9. Retrieved from