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Accept the new ontology of epistemic elements with, theories and questions are the two basic epistemic elements where and each theory is an attempt to answer a certain question, theories can be of three types – descriptive, normative, or definitions, and methods are a subtype of normative theory.

The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Hakob Barseghyan on 8 October 2018.1 The modification is currently being evaluated; a verdict is pending.


The current scientonomic ontology is flawed in a number of ways. First, it doesn’t include definitions as a subtype of theory and, therefore, differs from the ontology that is in the backbone of the Encyclopedia of Scientonomy. In addition, it distinguishes between two classes of elements – methods and methodologies – based on their respective historical fates rather than their propositional contents. This results in a somewhat absurd practice when the same criterion of theory evaluation can be classified either as a theory (methodology) or as a method depending on whether it has or hasn’t been historically accepted and/or employed. Furthermore, the currently accepted ontology relies heavily on the distinction between implicit and tacit, whereas the analysis shows that implicitness or explicitness cannot be grounds for drawing ontological distinctions. Consequently, we need to accept a new scientonomic ontology which doesn’t confuse the propositional content of an element with the historical records of its acceptances and/or employments.

The suggested ontology helps solve some of the issues permeating the current ontology. First, it builds on Rawleigh’s suggestion to include questions as a distinct class of epistemic elements and considers a theory as an attempt to answer a certain question. Second, since method is defined as a set of criteria for theory evaluation, it is not an independent epistemic element but is a subtype of normative theory. Third, since methods and methodologies of the currently accepted ontology do not differ from the perspective of their propositional content (i.e. both are criteria for theory evaluation), they in fact belong to one and the same class of epistemic elements. I suggested to reserve the word “method” for this type of epistemic element, and use “methodology” to denote the respective normative discipline. Fourth, it stipulates that methods can be both accepted and employed. However, it notes that the ability of being employed is not peculiar exclusively to methods, but characterizes normative propositions of all kinds, including ethical norms, aesthetic norms, and technological guidelines. Fifth, it introduces definition as a subtype of theory.


Theories To Accept

Ontology of Epistemic Elements (Barseghyan-2018).png

Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2018).png

Theories To Reject

Questions To Accept

  • Role of Definitions in Scientific Change: Do definitions play any distinct role in the process of scientific change, or do they only exhibit the exact same patterns as descriptive and normative theories?
  • Reducibility of Definitions: Are definitions a distinct subtype of theory, or are they somehow reducible to descriptive theories and/or normative theories?

Questions Answered

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

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


The modification is currently being evaluated; a verdict is pending.

Click on the Discussion tab for comments.


  1. ^  Barseghyan, Hakob. (2018) Redrafting the Ontology of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 2, 13-38. Retrieved from