Scientific Mosaic

From Encyclopedia of Scientonomy
Jump to navigation Jump to search

What is scientific mosaic? How should it be defined?

Scientific mosaic is one of the key concepts in current scientonomy. Thus, its proper definition is of great importance.

In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Hakob Barseghyan in 2015. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. Scientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2018) is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available definition of the term. Scientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2018) states "A set of all epistemic elements accepted and/or employed by an epistemic agent."


Although almost all of the great philosophers of science of the 20th century have described the history of science in terms of a changing, systematic collection of beliefs, there has never been a real consensus in the language used to describe such a collection. Thomas Kuhn used the word paradigm to talk of integrated collections of theories, methods, and values that were replaced during episodes of revolutionary scientific change.12 Imre Lakatos described a set of propositions as fitting into a scientific research programme;3 Larry Laudan used the concept of research tradition.45 Richard DeWitt talks of worldviews to describe the beliefs held by a scientific community at any given time.6p. 7

Although these terms are used to describe collections of scientific beliefs at some particular point in history, it would be wrong to assume that they are interchangeable. There has been much debate within the philosophy of science over what constitutes the exact contents of a given community’s system of beliefs. While for Karl Popper and Imre Lakatos a belief system would only include descriptive propositions, for the later Larry Laudan, methods and values should be included along with theories as part of the fabric of a community’s belief system.5p. 26

There has also been debate concerning whether or not scientific methods change over time. The methods of science were once supposed to be fixed. The idea that methods should be included as historically relative elements within a community’s system of beliefs is known as the dynamic method thesis, and was proposed by Paul Feyerabend in the 1970’s.78 In the late 1980's, the question of the existence of static methods became a focal point of the debate between Larry Laudan and John Worrall. In his Science and Values, Laudan (referred to as the 'later Laudan' because his views changed substantially over his career) argued that no method of theory assessment is immune to change. Worrall disagreed, claiming that there are some methods which have persisted throughout all changes.591011 The idea that scientific methods change through time is now generally accepted among contemporary historians and philosophers of science.


The term scientific mosaic was coined by Barseghyan in 2012 within the context of the The Theory of Scientific Change (TSC). It was suggested at the outset that a scientific mosaic should be understood as a collection of changeable theories and methods. The mosaic metaphor was chosen because the tiles of a mosaic may be tightly adjusted, or their may be a considerable gap between them. In scientific mosaics there may be considerable gaps, such as that between general relativity and quantum mechanics, despite the fact that both are accepted parts of the mosaic.12p. 5

The initial notion of scientific mosaic worked well with the original ontology of epistemic elements suggested by Barseghyan in The Laws of Scientific Change as well as the modified ontology suggested by Sebastien in "The Status of Normative Propositions in the Theory of Scientific Change", as both ontologies included only theories and methods as two fundamental types of epistemic elements.1213

With the acceptance of Rawleigh's new ontology of epistemic elements which added questions as a new fundamental epistemic element, it became apparent that the definition of scientific mosaic should be adjusted to include questions.14 One such definition was suggested by Barseghyan in his "Redrafting the Ontology of Scientific Change".15 The new definition became became accepted in 2020. As this definition does not refer to any epistemic elements explicitly, it is in principle compatible with any future ontology insofar as that ontology involves the notions of acceptance and employment.

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 January 2016This is when the community accepted its first definition of the term, Scientific Mosaic (2015), which indicates that the question is itself considered legitimate.Yes

All Theories

The following theories have attempted to answer this question:
TheoryFormulationFormulated In
Scientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2015)A set of all accepted theories and employed methods.2015
Scientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2018)A set of all epistemic elements accepted and/or employed by an epistemic agent.2018
If a definition of this term is missing, please click here to add it.

Accepted Theories

The following theories have been accepted as answers to this question:
CommunityTheoryAccepted FromAccepted Until
ScientonomyScientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2015)1 January 201617 May 2020
ScientonomyScientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2018)17 May 2020

Suggested Modifications

Here is a list of modifications concerning this topic:
ModificationCommunityDate SuggestedSummaryVerdictVerdict RationaleDate Assessed
Sciento-2018-0009Scientonomy8 October 2018Accept the new definition of scientific mosaic as a set of all epistemic elements accepted and/or employed by the epistemic agent.AcceptedInitially, the modification raised an objection from Patton who argued that the modification "is not acceptable at present, because it contains a term; epistemic agent, which has not yet been defined within scientonomy".c1 This objection received two counterarguments. According to Barseghyan, the lack of such a definition of epistemic agent should not "be taken as a reason for postponing the acceptance of the definition of scientific mosaic", since inevitably any taxonomy contains terms that "rely in their definitions on other (yet) undefined terms".c2 This point was seconded by Rawleigh who argued that the definition of scientific mosaic is to be accepted regardless of whether there is an accepted definition of epistemic agent, since "it's de facto accepted already that some agent is required to have a mosaic".c3 In early 2020, Patton dropped his objection as he found that there was "sufficient general understanding of what an epistemic agent is to accept this definition of the scientific mosaic, even without first accepting a definition of epistemic agent".c4 Additionally, Rawleigh argued that the definition is to be accepted since we have "already accepted the revised question-theory ontology".c517 May 2020

Current View

In Scientonomy community, the accepted definition of the term is Scientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2018). It is defined as: "A set of all epistemic elements accepted and/or employed by an epistemic agent."

Scientific Mosaic (Barseghyan-2018).png

According to this definition, scientific mosaic encompasses all accepted and employed epistemic elements. The definition is compatible with the ontology of epistemic elements which assumes that questions and theories (including methods as a sub-type of normative theories) are the only two fundamental types of epistemic elements. In addition, by not referring to any epistemic element explicitly, the definition also purports to be compatible with any future ontology of epistemic elements insofar as that ontology assumes that elements can be accepted and employed. Read More

Related Topics

It has the following sub-topic(s):

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


  1. ^  Bird, Alexander. (2011) Thomas Kuhn. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from
  2. ^  Kuhn, Thomas. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press.
  3. ^  Lakatos, Imre. (1978) Philosophical Papers: Volume 1. The Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes. Cambridge University Press.
  4. ^  Matheson, Carl and Dallmann, Justin. (2015) Historicist Theories of Scientific Rationality. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from
  5. a b c  Laudan, Larry. (1984) Science and Values. University of California Press.
  6. ^  DeWitt, Richard. (2010) An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science. Wiley-Blackwell.
  7. ^  Preston, John. (2016) Paul Feyerabend. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from
  8. ^  Feyerabend, Paul. (1975) Against Method. New Left Books.
  9. ^  Worrall, John. (1988) Review: The Value of a Fixed Methodology. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 39, 263-275.
  10. ^  Laudan, Larry. (1989) If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 40, 369-375.
  11. ^  Worrall, John. (1989) Fix It and Be Damned: A Reply to Laudan. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 40, 376-388.
  12. a b  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.
  13. ^  Sebastien, Zoe. (2016) The Status of Normative Propositions in the Theory of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 1, 1-9. Retrieved from
  14. ^  Rawleigh, William. (2018) The Status of Questions in the Ontology of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 2, 1-12. Retrieved from
  15. ^  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2018) Redrafting the Ontology of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 2, 13-38. Retrieved from