Modification:Sciento-2021-0003

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Accept 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.

The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Paul Patton and Sarah Machado-Marques on 1 August 2021.1 The modification was accepted on 8 October 2021.

Preamble

The issue of scientific error was first raised as an open question within the scientonomic community by Maxim Mirkin and Sinan Karamehmetoglu in 2018. The concept of error has been used in many different ways by historians and philosophers of science, and it was necessary to distinguish the sense of error that interests us scientonomically. An absolute sense of error is one in which past science is judged from a modern perspective, in which, for example, belief in phlogiston as the basis of combustion might be judged as an error by a modern chemist. This absolute sense of error was not the one that interested us, since we do not believe it is possible, or useful for scientonomic purposes, to take up an absolute point of view. The sense of error we are interested in is one that can be judged from a historical actor's perspective in accordance with the method employed by the actor at the time. Such a definition was necessary to resolve a controversy about whether cases of scientific error violated accepted scientonomic principles.1

Modification

Theories To Accept

  • 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.

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

Questions Answered

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

  • Error: What is error? How should it be defined?

Verdict

The modification was accepted on 8 October 2021. It 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.c4

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References

  1. a b  Machado-Marques, Sarah and Patton, Paul. (2021) Scientific Error and Error Handling. Scientonomy 4, 21-39. Retrieved from https://scientojournal.com/index.php/scientonomy/article/view/37121.