ABSTRACT

In the twentieth century, experimentation became a focus of interest for philosophers of science from only the 1980s onwards, when they began to pay attention to the role of scienti c practices in knowledge building rather than dealing solely with theories and purely logical operations.1 Ian Hacking’s Representing and Intervening (1983) is regarded as the rst and most in uential book that highlights the signi cance of experiments: ‘Experimentation has a life of its own’.2 During a conference at the MPI Berlin in June 2005 on ‘ e Shape of Experiment’, Hacking himself referred to the fact that many voices came ‘to the fore in the 1980s, urging that we think about experiment as intensely as we had been thinking about theorizing. Mine only happened to be an early contribution’.3 However, in chapter 9 of his above mentioned book, entitled ‘Experiment’, Hacking starts with a bold statement about the blind spot a icting philosophers of science who ‘constantly discuss theories and representations of reality, but say almost nothing about experiment, technology, or the use of knowledge to alter the world’.4 A few pages later, he continues:

What is scienti c method? Is it the experimental method? e question is wrongly posed. Why should there be the method of science? … We should not expect something as motley as the growth of knowledge to be strapped to one methodology.5