Observation and Experiment in the Natural and Social Sciences

  • Maria Carla Galavotti

Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 237)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-x
  2. Patrick Suppes
    Pages 1-41
  3. Paolo Legrenzi
    Pages 43-55
  4. David Papineau
    Pages 141-151
  5. Ursula Klein
    Pages 159-185
  6. Gereon Wolters
    Pages 295-299
  7. Colin Howson
    Pages 301-320
  8. Igor Douven
    Pages 321-326
  9. Ilkka Niiniluoto
    Pages 333-337
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 339-356

About this book


According to a long tradition in philosophy of science, a clear cut distinction can be traced between a context of discovery and a context of justification. This tradition dates back to the birth of the discipline in connection with the Circles of Vienna and Berlin, in the twenties and thirties of last century. Convicted that only the context of justification is pertinent to philosophy of science, logical empiricists identified its goal with the “rational reconstruction” of scientific knowledge, taken as the clarification of the logical structure of science, through an analysis of its language and methods. Stressing justification as the proper field of application of philosophy of science, logical empiricists intended to leave discovery out of its remit. The context of discovery was then discarded from philosophy of science and left to sociology, psychology and history. The distinction between context of discovery and context of justification goes hand in hand with the tenet that the theoretical side of science can – and should – be kept separate from its observational and experimental components. Further, the final, abstract formulation of theories should be analysed apart from the process behind it, resulting from a tangle of context-dependent factors. This conviction is reflected by the distinction between theoretical and observational sentences underpinning the Hempelian view of theories as nets, whose knots represent theoretical terms, floating on the plane of observation, to which it is anchored by rules of interpretation.


experimentation heuristics philosophy of science probability science

Editors and affiliations

  • Maria Carla Galavotti
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BolognaItaly

Bibliographic information