Environment in Crisis

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Uncertainties in Science

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Scientific Method

Naive Inductivism
Logic and Deduction
Problems with Naive Inductivism
Theory Dependence of Observation
The Myth of Scientific Method


Naive Inductivism

The naive inductivist believes the scientific method consists of the following steps:

  1. Objective and accurate observations are made (facts)
  2. Generalisations are drawn from observations (induction)
  3. Scientific laws and theories result from generalisations

An example of inductive reasoning is:
metals expand when heated

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Logic and Deduction

Scientific laws and theories then enable predictions and explanations to be made:

  1. Scientific laws result from generalisations about facts
  2. Consequences are deduced, using logic, from scientific laws and theories (deduction)
  3. This enables predictions and explanations to be made

An example of deductive reasoning is:
if metals expand when heated, railway tracks will become distorted in the hot sun if there are no expansion gaps in them

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Alan Chalmers, What is this thing called Science, 2nd edition, University of Queensland Press, St. Lucia, 1982.

Bill Latura, The Scientific Method, sci.skeptic FAQ.

J. Stein Carter, The Scientific Method, a traditional view.

Terry Halwes, The Myth of the Magical Scientific Method.


© 2003 Sharon Beder