What does it mean to say that a theory is accepted? How should theory acceptance be defined?
One of the tasks of scientonomy is to explain transitions from one accepted theory to the next. Thus, acceptance is a key concept in current scientonomy. Traditionally, the terms acceptance, use, and pursuit have not been distinguished. Confusion between the three terms leads to serious misunderstanding, thus their clarification is of great importance.1
In Scientonomy, the accepted definition of the term is:
- A theory is said to be accepted by an epistemic agent if it is taken as the best available answer to its respective question.
The original definition of the term was suggested by Hakob Barseghyan in The Laws of Scientific Change.1 After the inclusion of normative propositions into the elements of scientific change by Zoe Sebastien, the definition was changed to apply not only to descriptive but also to normative propositions.2
|Community||Accepted From||Acceptance Indicators||Still Accepted||Accepted Until||Rejection Indicators|
|Scientonomy||1 January 2016||This is when the community accepted its first definition of the term, Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015), which indicates that the term itself became accepted.||Yes|
|Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015)||A theory is said to be accepted if it is taken as the best available description of its object.||2015|
|Theory Acceptance (Sebastien-2016)||A theory is said to be accepted if it is taken as the best available description or prescription of its object.||2016|
|Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2018)||A theory is said to be accepted by an epistemic agent if it is taken as the best available answer to its respective question.||2018|
|Theory Acceptance (Fraser-Sarwar-2018)||An accepted theory is a scientific theory that is taken as the best available description or prescription of its object.||2018|
|Community||Theory||Accepted From||Accepted Until|
|Scientonomy||Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2015)||1 January 2016||15 February 2017|
|Scientonomy||Theory Acceptance (Sebastien-2016)||15 February 2017||1 September 2019|
|Scientonomy||Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2018)||1 September 2019|
|Modification||Community||Date Suggested||Summary||Verdict||Verdict Rationale||Date Assessed|
|Sciento-2016-0002||Scientonomy||3 September 2016||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.||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||23 January 2017|
|Sciento-2017-0002||Scientonomy||23 January 2017||Accept a new ontology of scientific change where the two fundamental elements are theories - both descriptive and normative - and methods.||Accepted||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||15 February 2017|
|Sciento-2018-0006||Scientonomy||8 October 2018||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.||Accepted||Following a series of off-line discussions, a consensus emerged concerning this modification: it was agreed that the modification is to be accepted.c1 It was mentioned that most of the elements of this new ontology "has already been accepted by the scientonomic community".c2 It was also stressed that "the consensus has been manifested on several occasions, including the first scientonomy conference in May 2019 in Toronto, where several of the presenters treated this new ontology as accepted."c3 The fact that the consensus concerning this modification has been achieved primarily off-line, i.e. outside of the discussion pages of this encyclopedia suggests that the scientonomic "workflow must have a way of accommodating these discussions".c4||1 September 2019|
|Sciento-2018-0019||Scientonomy||28 December 2018||Accept the new definition of theory acceptance which makes explicit that accepted theories are a subset of scientific theories.||Open|
Theory Acceptance (Barseghyan-2018) states: "A theory is said to be accepted by an epistemic agent if it is taken as the best available answer to its respective question."
This definition of the term makes it possible to apply the notion of theory acceptance to any subtype of theory. Unlike the previous definitions of the term, it doesn't imply any specific subtypes of theory, but explicitly states the relation between theories and questions they attempt to answer.
If a question concerning the ontology of theory acceptance is missing, please add it here.
If a question concerning the dynamics of theory acceptance is missing, please add it here.
This term is also related to the following topic(s):
- Barseghyan, Hakob. (2015) The Laws of Scientific Change. Springer.
- 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.