On Experimental Questions

  • Risto Hilpinen
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 195)


According to R. G. Collingwood, “every statement that anybody ever makes is made in answer to a question”.2 Collingwood takes this to be an important characteristic of scientific thinking:

In proportion as a man is thinking scientifically when he makes a statement, he knows that his statement is the answer to a question and knows what that question is. In proportion as he is thinking unscientifically he does not know these things.3

Philosophers have studied science both as a product and as a process. The investigation of “the language of science”, the structure of theories, and the conditions of their justification has been mainly concerned with science as a product; this line of investigation dominated the philosophy of science of the 1930’s and 1940’s. When philosophers became interested in questions of discovery, theory change and scientific progress, scientific rationality, and the interplay of theory and observation (or experiment) in science, they began to look at science as activity, viz. as a process of inquiry. In this context questions about the values and aims of science are unavoidable, and it is natural to adopt Collingwood’s general standpoint: the purpose of inquiry is to find satisfactory answers to the questions in which scientists are interested.


Belief System Rational Belief Complete Answer Primary Question Satisfactory Answer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Risto Hilpinen
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of TurkuFinland
  2. 2.University of MiamiUSA

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