chapter  3
26 Pages

Method

To facilitate the identification of virtues and vices that can be affected by the scientific method, it is essential that the main features of this method be first well understood. what scientists actually do is, to a large extent, governed by rules of method. some of these rules are formulated explicitly, but not everything that is done in science falls under some explicitly formulated rule. scientific method needs to be distinguished from science itself. as was highlighted in the previous chapter, i’m taking science to be more than a merely theoretical exercise. i’m considering it a complex activity comprising both an intellectual and a practical dimension. a study of method can therefore be seen as a second level reflection with respect to the actual actions carried out by the individual scientist in specific circumstances. scientists reflect on what needs to be done here and now. philosophers of science reflect on regular patters of scientists’ behaviour that guarantee success. The method is the unifying link, as it were, between the various individual acts. There is little doubt that, when people speak of the scientific mentality, an essential part of what they mean is associated with this method. one rightly expects the scientific method, via the mentality it generates, to have a considerable effect on the attributes of the individual scientist. The most general aims of this method are sketched in section one of this chapter. This is meant to set the scene by presenting a somewhat idealised situation. in section two, the inquiry proceeds with an exposition and evaluation of the logical backbone of scientific discovery, namely induction. My basic aim here will be to bring out the essential links between induction and everyday, rudimentary, human action. The same aim will determine my line of reasoning also in section three dedicated to falsification. in both cases, i hope to build a case for the claim that a full understanding of both induction and falsification cannot neglect this essential link between, on the one hand, the pure logical discourse and, on the other hand, what people typically do in everyday situations. it is from this inevitable link that i will draw some insights concerning the scientific mentality and its effect on the attributes of the person.