Indicators of Method Employment (Barseghyan-2015)

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This is an answer to the question Indicators of Method Employment that states "The employed method of theory appraisal of a community at some time is not necessarily indicated by the methodological texts of that time and must be inferred from actual patterns of theory acceptance and other indirect evidence."

Indicators of Method Employment was formulated by Hakob Barseghyan in 2015.1 It is currently accepted by Scientonomy community as the best available answer to the question.

Scientonomic History

Acceptance Record

Here is the complete acceptance record of Indicators of Method Employment (Barseghyan-2015):
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Scientonomy1 January 2016The theorem became de facto accepted by the community at that time together with the whole theory of scientific change.Yes

Question Answered

Indicators of Method Employment (Barseghyan-2015) is an attempt to answer the following question: What kind of historical markers could be taken as indicators that a method was employed by an agent at a given time?

See Indicators of Method Employment for more details.


One putative method of learning the employed method of the time is by studying texts concerning scientific methodology to learn what method was prescribed by the community or advocated by great scientists. However, such indicators can yield incorrect results. During the second half of the eighteenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century, the scientific community explicitly advocated the empiricist-inductivist methodology championed by Isaac Newton. This methodology held that new theories should be deduced from phenomena, and that unobservable entities should not be posited. However, the historical record actually shows that several theories positing unobservable entities did, in fact, become accepted during this period. These include Benjamin Franklin's theory of electricity, which posited an unobservable electric fluid, the phlogiston theory of combustion, and the theory that light is a waveform in a luminiferous ether. Thus the accepted methodology does not necessarily indicate the employed method of the time. 1pp. 53-54

More promising indicators of method employment are indirect, via inference from historical facts about what theories are accepted, the process of appraisal, and the prior state of the mosaic. For example, one might note what sort of theories become accepted during a particular time period by some community and try to determine why. If theories become accepted after some novel prediction they make has been confirmed, then the employed method of the time was most likely hypothetico-deductive. On the other hand, if theories do not require confirmed novel predictions to become accepted, then some other method might be the one employed. The most suitable indirect indicators of method employment will vary from case to case with context and culture.


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  1. a b  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.