Astrid Schwarz: Experiments in Practice
Pickering & Chatto Publishers, London 2014, 272 pp, £60.00, ISBN: 9781848934856
Notwithstanding the fact that a lot, if not most, of science is done outside the laboratory, most literature in the history and philosophy of science, when discussing the experimental method, focus only on experimentation “within the walls of a laboratory” (1). To fill this embarrassing gap, Astrid Schwarz has written an excellent book on field experimentation. The field, however, is a much more messy site than a clean lab. In an introduction to a special issue of Osiris on field science, Kuklick and Kohler ( 1996) list a number of the problems related to science in the field: As scientific rigor is defined by the standards of the laboratory, the field is considered to be “a site of compromised work: field sciences have dealt with problems that resist tidy solutions, and they have not excluded amateur participants” (1). To discuss science in the field, we will have to take account of a methodological tension between laboratory and field standards of evidence and reasoning.
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