Accept the new definitions of method as a set of criteria for theory evaluation and methodology as a normative discipline that formulates the rules which ought to be employed in theory assessment.
In the current scientonomic ontology, method and methodology are conceived as different epistemic elements and the difference between the two is stated in terms of implicit and explicit: method has been understood as a set of rules that can become the implicit expectations of a certain epistemic community, whereas the current definition of methodology is “a set of explicitly formulated rules of theory assessment”.2 Yet, from the perspective of their propositional contents, the two are exactly the same: the fact that a method has or hasn’t been explicitly stated by a certain epistemic agent pertains to the method’s historical fate but does not change its propositional content, for what is explicitly formulated by one epistemic agent, may be employed implicitly by another agent. Both method and methodology (as currently defined) refer to criteria (requirements, rules) for theory evaluation. Thus, their propositional content is normative, i.e. they are both criteria (rules, requirements, standards) for theory evaluation. Whether these criteria have been historically accepted as the correct way of doing science and found their way into the textbooks and encyclopedias or whether they managed to become the actual expectations of a certain epistemic agent and employed in theory assessment – in both cases, we are still dealing with criteria for theory evaluation. Therefore, we need to reconceive our notions of method and methodology.
The suggestion is to unite what has formerly been known as “method” and “methodology” into the new category of method, understood as a set of criteria (rules, requirements) for theory evaluation. Consequently, the label “methodology” will be reserved exclusively for the respective normative discipline. This will ensure that methodology – just like most other “-logies” – will only denote the respective field of study.
Theories To Accept
- Method (Barseghyan-2018): A set of criteria for theory evaluation.
- Methodology (Barseghyan-2018): A normative discipline that formulates the rules which ought to be employed in theory assessment.
Theories To Reject
- Method (Barseghyan-2015): A set of requirements for employment in theory assessment.
- Methodology (Sebastien-2016): A normative theory that prescribes the rules which ought to be employed in theory assessment.
This modification attempts to answer the following question(s):
- Method: What is method? How should it be defined?
- Methodology: What is methodology? How should it be defined?
The modification was accepted on 1 September 2019. The consensus concerning this modification emerged primarily off-line, following a series of discussions. It was noted that the new definition "does clarify the scientific understanding of methods as normative theories that can be both accepted and employed".c1 It was also highlighted that the consensus on this modification "has been manifested on several occasions, including the first scientonomy conference in May 2019 in Toronto, where several of the speakers treated the suggested definition of method as accepted".c2
Importantly, it was also agreed that the acceptance of "this definition will require a whole series of changes to other theories already accepted by the scientonomic community to accord with the new definitions, for example, the Methodology can shape Method theorem."c3 This raises an important workflow-related question: does this mean that the encyclopedia editors have the right to make the respective changes?c4
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- Barseghyan, Hakob. (2018) Redrafting the Ontology of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 2, 13-38. Retrieved from https://scientojournal.com/index.php/scientonomy/article/view/31032.
- Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.