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Accept a new ontology of scientific change where the two fundamental elements are theories - both descriptive and normative - and methods.

The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Zoe Sebastien on 23 January 2017.1 This modification presupposes the acceptance of Sciento-2017-0001. This modification is incompatible with Sciento-2016-0002. The modification was accepted on 15 February 2017.


Normative theories, such as those of methodology or ethics, have been excluded from the ontology of scientific change since including them appears to give rise to a destructive paradox first identified by Joel Burkholder. There are many historical cases where employed methods are known to conflict with professed methodologies. This seems to violate the third and zeroth laws of scientific change. By the third law, employed methods are deducible from accepted theories. But, this seems impossible in cases where methodologies and methods conflict. Under the zeroth law, all elements in the scientific are compatible with one another. But, that seems to be clearly not the case if methodologies and methods conflict with one another.

Since the paradox of normative propositions has been resolved (see modification Sciento-2016-0001), it is now possible to bring the normative theories back into the mosaic as proper elements of the ontology of scientific change.


Modify the ontology of scientific change by accepting that both descriptive and normative theories can be part of a mosaic. Consequently, modify the definition of theory acceptance to make it possible for both descriptive and normative theories to be accepted.

Theories To Accept

Acceptance Sebastien 2016.png

Theories To Reject

Questions Answered

This modification attempts to answer the following question(s):

  • Theory Acceptance: What does it mean to say that a theory is accepted? How should theory acceptance be defined?
  • Epistemic Elements: What are the fundamental epistemic elements that undergo scientific change?


The modification was accepted on 15 February 2017. The community has agreed that after the solution of the paradox of normative propositions, there are no obstacles for including normative propositions into the ontology of scientific change.c1 c2 c3 It was also agreed that including normative propositions into the ontology of scientific change "would allow us to grasp the role that methodological and ethical rules play in science".c4

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  1. ^  Sebastien, Zoe. (2016) The Status of Normative Propositions in the Theory of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 1, 1-9. Retrieved from