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Publication Details

The Character of Scientific Method

(Original title: Povaha vedeckej metódy)
Filozofia, 27 (1972), 6, 569-594.
Type of work: Papers and Discussions
Publication language: Slovak
The paper reassumes the study “The Notion of Method“ (Filozofia, 1972, No 3). Its task is to clear up the systematic, temporal and centralized character of scientific method and, at the same time, to prepare a proof of its cyclic and semi-weak aspect. The scholar always works on a certain background (in a certain environment that contains valid theories, opinions and instrumental possibilities); from its standpoint he approaches the systematic investigation of areas. He spreads the results also to other areas and continues in it until he comes across new phenomena. These represent a source of obscurities and new problems that cannot be solved by the old way of comprehending the given area. The scholar seeks then new possibilities for solving the problem, i. e. he projects more hypotheses that he gradually eliminates by help of falsification. By means of verification he increases the certainty of the “victorious“ hypothesis and by means of induction he determines the scope of its validity and thus he achieves the scientific law. From a set of scientific laws he forms a system of laws, i. e. a t h e o r у or scientific system. If we form a system of theories concerning a certain area, we get a branch of science. We discern three phases in the life of a scientific system. The initial phase contains the sequence „ [new phenomenon] obscurity -> problem -» its possible solutions -» reduction *o [one] hypothesis“. The stabilized phase contains “investigation of phenomena according to a hypothesis (theory) “ and the phase of crisis contains “new obscurities“ (arisen within the theory or outside it). The paper analyzes the specific properties of each phase, while it is being indicated that while the Popperian conception of science is constructed upon over-exposition of the initial phase and that of crisis, the Carnapian structure of science is essentially the structure of the stabilized phase. In the paper a special attention is paid to the problem of falsification and verification of hypothesis when this is always understood as an element of the set of hypotheses, as a centralized system (containing a nucleus round which gradually a general picture is formed) and as a temporal system. Methodological procedures are finally illustrated on the conrete case of the discovery of radium by M. Curie-Sklodowska.
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