Necessary Normative Theories
Are there normative theories that are necessarily part of any mosaic? What normative theories, if any, are necessary for the process of scientific change to occur?
The process of scientific change may necessitate the presence of certain normative theories. It is important to find out if there are such necessary normative theories and, if so, what theories these are.
In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated in 2017. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community.
In Scientonomy, the accepted answer to the question is:
- In order for the process of scientific change to be possible, the mosaic must necessarily contain at least one employed method.
|Community||Accepted From||Acceptance Indicators||Still Accepted||Accepted Until||Rejection Indicators|
|Scientonomy||15 February 2017||The question was missing and was added by the editors of the encyclopedia in early 2023. However, it is safe to say that it has been de facto accepted since the acceptance of Sebastien's ontology in 2017.||Yes|
If an answer to this question is missing, please click here to add it.
Necessary Method theorem (Barseghyan-2015) states: "In order for the process of scientific change to be possible, the mosaic must necessarily contain at least one employed method."
According to the non-empty mosaic theorem, there must be at least one element present in a mosaic. The Necessary Method theorem specifies that this element must be a method. That is, "one method is a must for the whole enterprise of scientific change to take off the ground".1
What would this method be? As per Barseghyan (2015):
This necessary method cannot be substantive. Since a substantive method is necessarily based on at least one contingent proposition, it is not a necessary element of any mosaic. Indeed, any substantive method can become employed after the acceptance of those contingent propositions on which it is based. Of course, in some mosaics, substantive methods can also be present from the outset. Moreover, it is quite likely that even the earliest of mosaics tacitly contained some primitive substantive methods (e.g. “trust your senses”, or “trust the chieftain”). Yet, the key theoretical point is that no substantive method is necessarily part of any mosaic, for a substantive method can become employed after the acceptance of the theories on which it is based.
Therefore, the necessary method is not substantive, but procedural, i.e. it doesn’t presuppose any contingent propositions. But it is a procedural method of a very special kind in that it cannot presuppose any propositions whatsoever: "the method that is necessarily present in any mosaic is not based on any propositions".1
In other words, it must be the most abstract of all methods. Any concrete method is an implementation of a more abstract method. Any concrete method is a logical consequence of the conjunction of some accepted theories and that abstract method (by the third law). Thus, a concrete method can become employed after the acceptance of the propositions on which it is based. Therefore, what we are looking for is the most abstract of all possible requirements.
We have come across that requirement on many occasions: the most abstract requirement to accept only the best available theories. This basic requirement is the most abstract of all, for it does not presuppose any other methods or theories. It is not surprising given that this abstract method is only a restatement of the definition of acceptance: this abstract method basically says that a theory is acceptable when it is the best available description of its object. But since this abstract requirement isn’t based on any theories, it cannot become accepted; it must be built into any mosaic from the outset.
As vague and unrestricting as this method is, it nevertheless performs two very important functions. First, it indicates the main goal of the whole scientific enterprise – the acquisition of best available descriptions. Second, being a link between accepted theories and more concrete methods, it allows us to modify our methods as we learn new things about the world, i.e. it allows for concrete methods to become employed as we accept new theories. In short, it is this abstract requirement that makes the process of scientific change possible.1
That is, any other method can be conceived as a deductive consequence of the conjunction of this abstract method and some accepted theories:
This question is a subquestion of Necessary Theories. It has the following sub-topic(s):
- Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.