Methods in the Physical Sciences

Methods in the Physical Sciences

Methods in the Physical Sciences

Methods in the Physical Sciences

Excerpt

The amount of philosophical writing available on any of the principles studied in this essay is small compared to the vast literature that exists on such subjects as the principle of the uniformity of nature or the principle of causality. Even less has been said about the nature, status and origin of the type of principle that forms the subject of our inquiry. This ought not to seem surprising once we realize that our principles are supplementary to those universal methodological principles--often referred to also as a priori postulates or metaphysical doctrines presupposed by science--which have attracted so much philosophical interest and discussion. Our principles which are principles within science are secondary in relation to the more fundamental principles which precede science and which guarantee the possibility of discourse in general.

This, however, does not detract from the significance of the results obtainable through inquiring into the nature of supplementary principles. For these principles will not be studied merely for their own sake but for the sake of the light they shed on the entire conceptual groundwork of the scientific enterprise. By treating them as vital forces animating the growth mechanism of systemized knowledge one gains deeper insight into the dynamic structure of science by a better understanding of the nature of these forces.

A few words of explanation are called for as to what these two types of principles are and how they are related to one another. Firstly, supplementary principles always presuppose some primary principle. The former are superimposed upon the latter and amplify them. Secondly, supplementary principles are not indispensable for making inferences possible from matters of fact in the way the more . . .

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