Mechanism of Mosaic Split
What happens to a mosaic when two or more similar theories are considered equally acceptable by a scientific community? Under what conditions does a mosaic split occur? What happens to a mosaic when it is transformed into two or more mosaics?
There have been many cases in the history of science when one community, with a single scientific mosaic divided into two or more communities, with different mosaics. These distinct communities would differ regarding at least one of their accepted theories or employed methods. For example, consider the case of the distinct mosaics of French and English natural philosophers in the early part of the 18th century. The former accepted a version of Cartesian theory while the latter accepted a version of Newtonian theory.1 We can see by various indicators 1 that the dispute between these two communities was not a simple matter of scientific disagreement, like the contemporary dispute between various interpretations of quantum mechanics. In the case of quantum mechanics, even those who advocate alternatives acknowledge that the Copenhagen Interpretation is currently accepted as the best available description of its object. 21 Such contender theories are said to be pursued. What makes the situation in the case of the 18th century French and English mosaics different is that the two communities accepted different theories (Cartesian and Newtonian physics, respectively) as the best available description of physical reality. In such a case we are justified to regard these as two distinct communities, each bearing its own mosaic. Understanding the circumstances under which this sort of situation arises is among the goals of a general descriptive theory of scientific change.
In the scientonomic context, this question was first formulated by Hakob Barseghyan in 2015. The question is currently accepted as a legitimate topic for discussion by Scientonomy community. Necessary Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015), Possible Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015) and Split Due to Inconclusiveness theorem (Barseghyan-2015) are currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available theories on the subject. Necessary Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015) states "When two mutually incompatible theories satisfy the requirements of the current method, the mosaic necessarily splits in two." Possible Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015) states "When a theory assessment outcome is inconclusive, a mosaic split is possible." Split Due to Inconclusiveness theorem (Barseghyan-2015) states "When a mosaic split is a result of the acceptance of only one theory, it can only be a result of inconclusive theory assessment."
Traditionally the topic of why communities of scientists accept different theories has been an enigma for historians and philosophers of science, although the problem has been known about for some time. In the Categories for example, Aristotle grappled with the question of false belief and how false beliefs came to be acquired, and the significance of the question for science and epistemology.3 Here we are not concerned with judging the truth or falsity of beliefs, but rather with the question of how divergent beliefs arise in epistemic communities.
Pre-Kuhnian philosophers' typical response to divergent community beliefs has largely depended on their views of scientific change more generally. An example of this is the work of Karl Popper. Popper regarded scientific change as being a process of conjectures and refutations, "of boldly proposing theories; of trying our best to show that these are erroneous; and of accepting them tentatively if our critical efforts are unsuccessful".4 Thus, Popper's approach suggested that any difference in the beliefs of certain communities could be chalked up to differences either in available knowledge (whether a conjecture had been refuted) or a difference in experimental methods (whether the same criteria were being applied in refutations). More generally, differences between philosophers of science during this period in their beliefs about how science changes coloured their views about what factors (or mistakes) present in difference communities were relevant to divergent scientific beliefs. This form of thinking with regards to differences in assessment of scientific theories - if not the exact formulation it takes - was generally held by "positivists" or "logical empiricists" and accepted until the historical turn in the 1960s.5
It was not until after Thomas Kuhn's publication of his 'Structure of Scientific Revolutions' that the consensus about divergent beliefs was challenged.6 Kuhn's "revolutionary" approach to scientific change radically diverged from his predecessors. On this view science has periods of normal science wherein the prevailing dogmas and core theories (the paradigm) are unquestioned and science proceeds as a process of puzzle solving. This can be interrupted by a crisis in which mounting anomalies cause scientists to question the theoretical foundations of the paradigm.7 Crises may have no impact on normal science or they may result in a revolution; which is what Kuhn calls "the emergence of a new candidate for paradigm and with the ensuing battle over its acceptance".7 The present question of how divergent beliefs arise within communities fits nicely into this framework - a unified community starts by doing normal science, anomalies emerge within the paradigm, and a revolution occurs which splits the community. Subsequent work by philosophers in the field of scientific change would be coloured by the same kind of analysis of the historical record that shaped Kuhn's view of the subject, including the work done by Imre Lakatos, Paul Feyerabend, and Larry Laudan.5
One other approach to divergent community beliefs that deserves mention is the approach taken by the social sciences, namely the sociology of scientific knowledge (SSK) advanced principally by David Bloor.8 SSK regards scientific activity as a kind human social activity and as such and area that falls under the purview of the social sciences.9 As such, any divergence in community beliefs is the result of and explainable by sociological factors that contribute to belief formation.
|Community||Accepted From||Acceptance Indicators||Still Accepted||Accepted Until||Rejection Indicators|
|Scientonomy||1 January 2016||This is when the community accepted its first answers to this question, the Necessary Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015) and the Possible Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015), which indicates that the question is itself considered legitimate.||Yes|
|Necessary Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015)||When two mutually incompatible theories satisfy the requirements of the current method, the mosaic necessarily splits in two.||2015|
|Possible Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015)||When a theory assessment outcome is inconclusive, a mosaic split is possible.||2015|
|Split Due to Inconclusiveness theorem (Barseghyan-2015)||When a mosaic split is a result of the acceptance of only one theory, it can only be a result of inconclusive theory assessment.||2015|
|Community||Theory||Accepted From||Accepted Until|
|Scientonomy||Necessary Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015)||1 January 2016|
|Scientonomy||Possible Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015)||1 January 2016|
|Scientonomy||Split Due to Inconclusiveness theorem (Barseghyan-2015)||1 January 2016|
In Scientonomy community, the accepted theory on the subject is Necessary Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015). It states: "When two mutually incompatible theories satisfy the requirements of the current method, the mosaic necessarily splits in two."
In Scientonomy community, the accepted theory on the subject is Possible Mosaic Split theorem (Barseghyan-2015). It states: "When a theory assessment outcome is inconclusive, a mosaic split is possible."
In Scientonomy community, the accepted theory on the subject is Split Due to Inconclusiveness theorem (Barseghyan-2015). It states: "When a mosaic split is a result of the acceptance of only one theory, it can only be a result of inconclusive theory assessment."
The following related topic(s) currently lack an accepted answer:
- Indicators of Inconclusiveness: What indicators enable us to identify a historical case of inconclusive theory assessment? The topic has no accepted answer in Scientonomy.
This topic is a sub-topic of Mechanism of Scientific Change.
It has the following sub-topic(s):
This topic is also related to the following topic(s):
- Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.
- Faye, Jan. (2014) Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/qm-copenhagen/.
- Miller, Fred D. (2013) Aristotle on Belief and Knowledge. In Anagnostopoulos and Miller (Eds.) (2013), 285-307.
- Popper, Karl. (1963) Conjectures and Refutations. Routledge.
- Laudan, Rachel; Laudan, Larry and Donovan, Arthur. (1988) Testing Theories of Scientific Change. In Donovan, Laudan, and Laudan (Eds.) (1988), 3-44.
- Bird, Alexander. (2008) The Historical Turn in the Philosophy of Science. In Psillos and Curd (Eds.) (2008), 67-77.
- Kuhn, Thomas. (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. University of Chicago Press.
- Bloor, David. (1976) Knowledge and Social Imagery. Routledge and K. Paul.
- Longino, Helen. (2015) The Social Dimensions of Scientific Knowledge. In Zalta (Ed.) (2016). Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/spr2016/entries/scientific-knowledge-social/.