Sebastien, Zoe. (2016) The Status of Normative Propositions in the Theory of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 1, 1-9. Retrieved from https://www.scientojournal.com/index.php/scientonomy/article/view/26947.
|Title||The Status of Normative Propositions in the Theory of Scientific Change|
|Resource Type||journal article|
The scope of the Theory of Scientific Change (TSC) encompasses any and all changes that occur in a given scientific mosaic, the set of all methods employed and theories accepted at a given time by a given scientific community. Currently, a theory is defined as a set of propositions that attempts to describe something. This definition excludes normative propositions from the scope of the TSC. Normative theories, such as those of methodology or ethics, have been excluded since including them appears to give rise to a destructive paradox first identified by Joel Burkholder. There are many historical cases where employed scientific 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 mosaic are compatible with one another. But, that seems to be clearly not the case if methodologies and methods conflict with one another. In this paper, I argue that normative propositions such as methodologies can be included in the scientific mosaic as accepted theories without generating a paradox and that neither the third nor zeroth laws of scientific change need be violated. I outline my solution to the paradox and conclude by describing some new and exciting avenues for future research that are now open.
Here are all the theories formulated in Sebastien (2016):
|Theory (Sebastien-2016)||Definition||A set of propositions.||2016|
|Normative Theory (Sebastien-2016)||Definition||A set of propositions that attempts to prescribe something.||2016|
|Descriptive Theory (Sebastien-2016)||Definition||A set of propositions that attempts to describe something.||2016|
|Theory Acceptance (Sebastien-2016)||Definition||A theory is said to be accepted if it is taken as the best available description or prescription of its object.||2016|
|Methodology (Sebastien-2016)||Definition||A normative theory that prescribes the rules which ought to be employed in theory assessment.||2016|
|The Third Law (Sebastien-2016)||Descriptive||A method becomes employed only when it is deducible from some subset of other employed methods and accepted theories of the time.||2016|
|Normative Propositions as Part of the Ontology of Scientific Change (Sebastien-2017)||Descriptive||Normative propositions (such as those of methodology or ethics) can be part of a mosaic and undergo change.||2017|
|Epistemic Elements - Theories and Methods (Sebastien-2017)||Descriptive||The two classes of elements that can undergo scientific change are accepted theories - both descriptive and normative - and employed methods.||2017|
|Resolution to the Paradox of Normative Propositions (Sebastien-2016)||Descriptive||The new third law resolves the paradox of normative propositions by making it clear that employed methods don't necessarily follow from all accepted theories, but only from some.||2016|
Here are all the modifications suggested in Sebastien (2016):
- Sciento-2016-0001: Accept a new formulation of the third law to make it clear that employed methods do not have to be deducible from all accepted theories and employed methods but only from some. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Zoe Sebastien on 3 September 2016.1 The modification was accepted on 21 January 2017. There was a community consensus that "the new formulation of the third law does bring an additional level of precision to our understanding of the mechanism of method change".c1 The community agreed that the new formulation "makes a clarification that, on its own, warrants this modification's acceptance".c2 Importantly, it was also agreed that the modification "solves the paradox of normative propositions".c3
- Sciento-2016-0002: Accept a new taxonomy for theory, normative theory, descriptive theory to reintroduce normative propositions (such as those of ethics or methodology) to the scientific mosaic. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Zoe Sebastien on 3 September 2016.1 The discussion was closed on 23 January 2017 and the modification was not accepted. Since this modification consisted of two interrelated but essentially distinct suggestions - one definitional and one ontological - it was decided by the community to divide it into two modifications so that the gist of the proposed suggestions is properly articulated. In particular, it was agreed that there are two modifications in "the heart of this single modification - one ontological, the other definitional".c1 It was also agreed that the current formulation "is exclusively definitional, and does not give the community an opportunity to appreciate (and, well, accept) the ontological changes that come along with it".c2 Consequently, it was decided to divide this modification into two modifications - one definitional and one ontological.c3 It was superseded by Sciento-2017-0001 and Sciento-2017-0002.
- Sciento-2017-0001: Accept new definitions for theory, normative theory, and descriptive theory. Also, modify the definition of methodology to reflect these changes. The modification was suggested to Scientonomy community by Zoe Sebastien on 23 January 2017.1 The modification was accepted on 15 February 2017. The community agreed that this is "an important addition to theoretical scientonomy".c1 It was agreed that since "the paradox of normative propositions has been solved, a revised set of definitions was needed".c2 It was emphasized that if we're going to have any sort of conversation on the status of normative propositions in the mosaic, "then we need to start from a definition".c3
- Sciento-2017-0002: 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 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
- Sebastien, Zoe. (2016) The Status of Normative Propositions in the Theory of Scientific Change. Scientonomy 1, 1-9. Retrieved from https://www.scientojournal.com/index.php/scientonomy/article/view/26947.