Cultural Influence in Science:

Causes and Effects
( Part 2 )

by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.

This page is a detailed examination
of ideas that are outlined in Part 1
(which I suggest reading first) about
 Cultural-Personal Factors 
 Conceptual Factors 
 Thought Styles

The following sections (3, 2B, 8) are quoted from a detailed description of Integrated Scientific Method.

3. Cultural-Personal Factors in Science

.   For most scientists, a powerful psychological motivation is curiosity about "how things work" and a taste for intellectual stimulation.  The joy of scientific discovery is captured in the following excerpts from letters between two scientists involved in the development of quantum mechanics:  Max Planck (who opened the quantum era in 1900) and Erwin Schrodinger (who formulated a successful quantum theory in 1926).
[Planck, in a letter to Schrodinger, says] "I am reading your paper in the way a curious child eagerly listens to the solution of a riddle with which he has struggled for a long time, and I rejoice over the beauties that my eye discovers."  [Schrodinger replies by agreeing that] "everything resolves itself with unbelievable simplicity and unbelievable beauty, everything turns out exactly as one would wish, in a perfectly straightforward manner, all by itself and without forcing."  {more about The Joy of Science}

OTHER PSYCHOLOGICAL MOTIVES and PRACTICAL CONCERNS.   Most scientists try to achieve personal satisfaction and professional success by forming intellectual alliances with colleagues and by seeking respect and rewards, status and power in the form of publications, grant money, employment, promotions, and honors.
    When a theory (or a request for research funding) is evaluated, most scientists will be influenced by the common-sense question, "How will the result of this evaluation affect my own personal and professional life?"  Maybe a scientist has publicly taken sides on an issue and there is ego involvement with a competitive desire to "win the debate"; or time and money has been invested in a theory or research project, and there will be higher payoffs, both practical and psychological, if there is a favorable evaluation by the scientific community.  In these situations, when there is a substantial investment of personal resources, many scientists will try to use logic and "authority" to influence the process and result of evaluation.

METAPHYSICAL WORLDVIEWS.   Metaphysics forms a foundation for some conceptual factors, such as criteria for the types of entities and interactions that should be used in theories.  One example, described earlier, was the preference by many astronomers, including Copernicus, for using only circular motions at constant speed in their theories.
    Metaphysics can also influence logical structure.  Darden (1991) suggests that a metaphysical worldview in which nature is simple and unified may lead to a preference for scientific theories that are simple and unified.
    A common metaphysical assumption in science is empirical consistency, with reproducible results — there is an expectation that identical experimental systems should always produce the same observations.  (with "the same" interpreted statistically, not literally)
    Metaphysical worldviews can be nonreligious, or based on religious principles that are theistic, nontheistic, or atheistic.  Everyone has a worldview, which does not cease to exist if it is ignored or denied.  For example, to the extent that positivists (also called empiricists) who try to prohibit unobservables in theories are motivated by a futile effort to produce a science without metaphysics, they are motivated by their own metaphysical worldviews.

IDEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES are based on subjective values and on political goals for "the way things should be" in society.  These principles span a wide range of concerns, including socioeconomic structures, race relations, gender issues, social philosophies and customs, religions, morality, equality, freedom, and justice.
    A dramatic example of political influence is the control of Russian biology, from the 1930s into the 1960s, by the "ideologically correct" theories and research programs of Lysenko, supported by the power of the Soviet government.

OPINIONS OF "AUTHORITIES" can also influence evaluation.  The quotation marks are a reminder that a perception of authority is in the eye of the beholder.  Perceived authority can be due to an acknowledgment of expertise, a response to a dominant personality, and/or involvement in a power relationship.  Authority that is based at least partly on power occurs in scientists' relationships with employers, tenure committees, cliques of colleagues, professional organizations, journal editors and referees, publishers, grant reviewers, and politicians who vote on funding for science.

SOCIAL-INSTITUTIONAL CONTEXTS.   These five factors (psychology, practicality, metaphysics, ideology, authority) interact with each other, and they develop and operate in a complex social context at many levels — in the lives of individuals, in the scientific community, and in society as a whole.  In an attempt to describe this complexity, the analysis-and-synthesis framework of ISM includes:  the characteristics of individuals and their interactions with each other and with a variety of groups (familial, recreational, professional, political,...);  profession-related politics (occurring primarily within the scientific community) and societal politics (involving broader issues in society);  and the institutional structures of science and society.
    The term "cultural-personal" implies that both cultural and personal levels are important.  These levels are intimately connected by mutual interactions because individuals (with their motivations, concerns, worldviews, and principles) work and think in the context of a culture, and this culture (including its institutional structure, operations, and politics, and its shared concepts and habits of thinking) is constructed by and composed of individual persons.
    Cultural-personal factors are influenced by the social and institutional context that constitutes the reward system of a scientific community.  In fact, in many ways this context can be considered a causal mechanism that is partially responsible for producing the factors.  For example, a desire for respect is intrinsic in humans, existing independently of a particular social structure, but the situations that stimulate this desire (and the responses that are motivated by these situations) do depend on the social structure.  An important aspect of a social-institutional structure is its effects on the ways in which authority is created and manifested, especially when power relationships are involved.000000

What are the results of mutual interactions between science and society?  How does science affect culture, and how does culture affect science?

SCIENCE AFFECTS CULTURE.   The most obvious effect of science has been its medical and technological applications, with the accompanying effects on health care, lifestyles, and social structures.  But science also influences culture, in many modern societies, by playing a major role in shaping cultural worldviews, concepts, and thinking patterns.  Sometimes this occurs by the gradual, unorchestrated diffusion of ideas from science into the culture.  At other times, however, there is a conscious effort, by scientists or nonscientists, to use "the authority of science" for rhetorical purposes, to claim that scientific theories and evidence support a particular belief system or political program.

CULTURE AFFECTS SCIENCE.   ISM, which is mainly concerned with the operation of science, asks "How does culture affect science?"  Some influence occurs as a result of manipulating the "science affects culture" influence described above.  If society wants to obtain certain types of science-based medical or technological applications, this will influence the types of scientific research that society supports with its resources.  And if scientists (or their financial supporters) have already accepted some cultural concepts, such as metaphysical and/or ideological theories, they will tend to prefer (and support) scientific theories that agree with these cultural-personal theories.  In the ISM diagram this influence appears as a conceptual factor, external relationships... with cultural-personal theories.  For example, the Soviet government supported the science of Lysenko because his theories and research supported the principles of Marxism.  They also hoped that this science would increase their own political power, so their support of Lysenko contained a strong element of self-interest.

PERSONAL CONSISTENCY.   Some cultural-personal influence occurs due to a desire for personal consistency in life.  According to the theory of cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1956), if there is a conflict between ideas, between actions, or between thoughts and actions, this inconsistency produces an unpleasant dissonance, and a person will be motivated to take action aimed at reducing the dissonance.  In the overall context of a scientist's life, which includes science and much more, a scientist will seek consistency between the science and non-science aspects of life.  { Larry Laudan has proposed a model for dissonance-driven "reticulated" change in science. }
    Because groups are formed by people, the principles of personal consistency can be extrapolated (with appropriate modifications, and with caution) beyond individuals to other levels of social structure, to groups that are small or large, including societies and governments.  For example, during the period when the research program of Lysenko dominated Russian biology, the Soviets wanted consistency between their ideological beliefs and scientific beliefs.  A consistency between ideology and science will reduce psychological dissonance, and it is also logically preferable.  If a Marxist theory and a scientific theory are both true, these theories should agree with each other.  If the theories of Marx are believed to be true, there tends to be a decrease in logical status for all theories that are inconsistent with Marx, and an increase in status for theories consistent with Marx.  This logical principle, applied to psychology, forms the foundation for theories of cognitive dissonance, which therefore also predict an increase in the status of Lysenko's science in the context of Soviet politics.
    Usually scientists (and others) want theories to be not just plausible, but also useful.  With Lysenko's biology, the Soviets hoped that attaining consistency between science policy and the principles of communism would produce increased problem-solving utility.  Part of this hope was that Lysenko's theories, applied to agricultural policy, would increase the Russian food supply; but nature did not cooperate with the false theories, so this policy resulted in decreased productivity.  Another assumption was that the Soviet political policies would gain popular support if there was a belief that this policy was based on (and was consistent with) reliable scientific principles.  And if science "plays a major role in shaping cultural...thinking patterns," the government wanted to insure that a shaping-of-ideas by science would support their ideological principles and political policies.  The government officials also wanted to maintain and increase their own power, so self-interest was another motivating factor. 

FEEDBACK.   In the ISM diagram, three large arrows point toward "evaluation of theory" from the three evaluation factors, and three small arrows point back the other way.  These small arrows show the feedback that occurs when a conclusion about theory status already has been reached based on some factors and, to minimize cognitive dissonance, there is a tendency to interpret other factors in a way that will support this conclusion.  Therefore, each evaluation criterion is affected by feedback from the current status of the theory and from the other two criteria.

THOUGHT STYLES.   In the case of Lysenko there was an obvious, consciously planned interference with the operation of science.  But cultural influence is usually not so obvious.  A more subtle influence is exerted by the assumed ideas and values of a culture (especially the culture of a scientific community) because these assumptions, along with explicitly formulated ideas and values, form a foundation for the way scientists think when they generate and evaluate theories, and plan their research programs.  The influence of these foundational ideas and values, on the process and content of science, is summarized at the top of the ISM diagram: "Scientific activities...are affected by culturally influenced thought styles."  Section 8 discusses thought styles: their characteristics; their effects on the process and content of science; and their variations across different fields, and changes with time.

OVER-GENERALIZING.  When scholars are thinking about cultural-personal factors and their influence in science, too often there is too much over-generalizing.  It's easy to get carried away into silly ideas, unless we remember that all of these cultural-personal factors vary in different areas of science and in communities within each area, and for different individuals, so the types and amounts of resulting influences (on the process of science and the content of science) vary widely.

CONTROVERSY.   Among scholars who study science there is a wide range of views about the extent to which cultural factors influence the process and content of science.  These disagreements, and the role of cultural factors in ISM and in science education, are discussed in another page, Hot Debates about Science.  Briefly summarized, my opinion is that an extreme emphasis on cultural influence is neither accurate nor educationally beneficial, and that even though there is a significant cultural influence on the process of science, usually (but not always) the content of science is not strongly affected by cultural factors.

2B. Constraints on Components of Scientific Theories

.   Scientific communities develop preferences for the types of components that should (and should not) be used in a theory.  For example, prior to 1609 when Kepler introduced elliptical planetary orbits, it was widely believed that in astronomical theories all motions should be in circles with constant speed.  This belief played a role in motivating Copernicus:
Copernicus attacks the Ptolemaic astronomy not because in it the sun moves rather than the earth, but because Ptolemy has not strictly adhered to the precept that all celestial motions must be explained only by uniform circular motions or combinations of such circular motions. ...  It has been generally believed that Copernicus's insistence on uniform circular motion is part of a philosophical or metaphysical dogma going back to Plato.  (Cohen, 1985; pp 112-113)

    In every field there are implicit and explicit constraints on theory components — on the types of entities, actions and interactions to include in a theory's models for composition and operation.  These constraints can be motivated by beliefs about ontology (after asking "Does it exist?") or utility (by asking "Will it be useful for doing science?").  For example, an insistence on uniform circular motion could be based on the ontological belief that celestial bodies never move in noncircular motion, or on the utilitarian rationale that using noncircular motions makes it more difficult to do calculations.

CONSTRAINTS ON UNOBSERVABLE COMPONENTS.   A positivist believes that scientific theories should not postulate the existence of unobservable entities, actions, or interactions.  For example, behaviorist psychology avoids the concept of "thinking" because it cannot be directly observed.  A strict positivist will applaud Newton's theory of gravitation, despite its lack of a causal explanatory mechanism, because it is an empirical generalization that is reliable and approximately accurate, and it does not postulate (as do more recent theories of gravity) unobservable entities such as fields, curved space, or gravitons.  But most scientists, although they appreciate Newton's descriptive theory for what it is, consider the absence of explanation to be a weakness.
    some comments about terminology:  Positivism was proposed in the 1830s by Auguste Comte, who was motivated partly by anti-religious ideology.  In the early 20th century a philosophy of logical positivism was developed to combine positivism with other ideas.  In current use, "positivism" can be used in a narrow sense (as Comte did, and as I do here) or it can refer to anything connected with logical positivism, including the "other ideas" and more.  Logical positivism can also be called logical empiricism.  { Notice that empiricism (i.e., positivism) is not the same as empirical.  A theory that is non-empiricist (because it some components, such as atoms or molecules, that are unobservable) can make predictions about empirical data that can be used in empirical evaluation. }
    Although positivism (or empiricism, the name typically given to current versions) is considered a legitimate perspective in philosophy, it is rare among scientists, who welcome a wide variety of ways to describe and explain.  Many modern theories include unobservable entities and actions, such as electrons and electromagnetic force, among their essential components.  Although most scientists welcome a descriptive theory that only describes empirical patterns, at this point they think "we're not there yet" because their limited theory is seen as just a temporary stage along the path to a more complete theory.  This attitude contrasts with the positivist view that a descriptive theory should be the ending point for science.
    The ISM framework includes two types of theories (and corresponding models) — descriptive and explanatory — so it is compatible with any type of scientific theory, whether it is descriptive, explanatory, or has some characteristics of each.  My own anti-positivist opinions, which are not part of the ISM framework, are summarized in the preceding paragraph, and are discussed in more depth in another page.  {in Hot Debates about Science}

8. Thought Styles in Science

This section describes what thought styles are, and how they affect the process and content of science.

A DEFINITION.   As described by Grinnell (1992), a cell biologist with an insider's view of science, a scientist's thought style (or the collective thought style for a group of scientists) is a system of concepts, developed from prior experience, about nature and research science.  It provides the "operating paradigm" that guides decisions about what to study, and how to plan and do the research-actions of observing and interpreting.
    These concepts (about nature and science) are related to the social and institutional structures within which they develop and operate.  But even though many ideas are shared in a scientific community, some aspects of a thought style vary from one individual to another, and from one group to another.  There are interactions between groups, and each individual belongs to many groups.   { The following treatment will not explicitly address this complexity, and will usually refer to "a thought style" or "the thought style" as if only one style existed. }

EFFECTS ON OBSERVATION AND INTERPRETATION.   Thought styles affect the process and content of science.
    The influence of a thought style may be difficult to perceive because the ideas in it are often unconsciously assumed as "the way things are done" rather than being explicitly stated.  But these ideas exist nevertheless, and they affect the process and content of science, producing effects that span a wide range from the artistic taste that defines a theory's "elegance" to the hard-nosed pragmatism of deciding whether a project to develop a theory or explore a domain is worth the resources it would require.
    A thought style will influence (and when viewed from another perspective, is comprised by) the problem-posing and problem-solving strategies of individuals and groups.  There may be a preference for projects with comprehensive "know every step in advance" preliminary planning, or casual "steer as you go" improvisational serendipity.
    One procedural decision is to ask "Who will do what during research?"  Although it is possible for one scientist to do all the activities in ISM, this is not necessary because within a research group the efforts of individual scientists, each working on a different part of the problem, can be cooperatively coordinated.  Similarly, in a field as a whole, each group can work on a different part of a mega-problem.  With a "division of labor," individuals or groups can specialize in certain types of activities.  One division is between experimentalists who generate observations, and theorists who focus on interpretation.  But most scientists do some of both, with the balance depending on the requirements of a particular research project and on the abilities and preferences of colleagues.
    There will be mutual influences between thought styles and the procedural "rules of the game" developed by a community of scientists to establish and maintain certain types of institutions and reward systems, and procedures for deciding which people, topics, and viewpoints are presented in conferences and are published in journals.  A thought style will affect attitudes toward competition and cooperation and how to combine them effectively, and (at a community level) the ways in which activities of different scientists and groups are coordinated.  The logical and aesthetic tastes of a community will affect the characteristics of written and oral presentations, such as the blending of modes (verbal, visual, mathematical,...), the degree of simplification, and the balance between abstractions and concrete illustrations or analogies. 

    A thought style will tend to favor the production of certain types of observation-and-interpretation knowledge rather than other types.  Effects on observation could include, for example, a preference for either controlled experiments or field studies, and data collection that is qualitative or quantitative.  There will also be expectations for the connections between experimenting and theorizing.
    An intellectual environment will favor the invention, pursuit and acceptance of certain types of theories.  Some of this influence arises from the design of experiments, which determines what is studied and how, and thus the types of data collected.  Another mechanism for influence is the generation and selection of criteria for theory evaluation.  For example, thought styles can exert a strong influence on conceptual factors, such as preferences for the types of components used in theories, the optimal balance between simplicity and completeness, the value of unified wide-scope theories, the relative importance of plausibility and utility, and the ways in which a theory or project can be useful in promoting cognition and research.  Thought styles will influence, and will be influenced by, the goals of science, such as whether the main goal of research projects should be to improve the state of observations or interpretations, whether science should focus on understanding nature or controlling nature, and what should be the relationships between science, technology, and society.

    The influence exerted by thought styles and cultural-personal factors is a hotly debated topic, as discussed in Hot Debates about Science.

CONCEPTUAL ECOLOGY.   The metaphor of conceptual ecology (Toulmin, 1972) offers an interesting perspective on the effects of thought styles, based on analogy between biological and conceptual environments.  In much the same way that the environmental characteristics of an ecological niche affect the natural selection occurring within its bounds, the intellectual characteristics of individuals — and of the dominant thought styles in the communities they establish and within which they operate — will favor the development and maintenance of certain types of ideas (about theories, experiments, goals, procedures,...) rather than others.

a PUZZLE and a FILTER.   Bauer compares science to solving a puzzle.  In this metaphor (from Polanyi, 1962) scientists are assembling a jigsaw puzzle of knowledge about nature, with the semi-finished puzzle in the open for all to see.  When one scientist fits a piece into the puzzle, or modifies a piece already in place, others respond to this change by thinking about the next step that now becomes possible.  The overall result of these mutual adjustments is that the independent activities of many scientists are coordinated so they blend together and form a structured cooperative whole.
    Bauer supplements this portrait of science with the metaphor of a filter, to describe the process in which semi-reliable work done by scientists on the frontiers of research, which Bauer describes in a way reminiscent of the "anything goes" anti-method anarchy of Feyerabend (1975), is refined into the generally reliable body of knowledge that appears in textbooks.  In science, filtering occurs in a perpetual process of self-correction, as individual inadequacies and errors are filtered through the sieve of public accountability by collaborators and colleagues, journal editors and referees, and by the community of scientists who read journal articles, listen to conference presentations, and evaluate what they read and hear.  During this process it is probable, but not guaranteed, that much of the effect of biased self-interest by one individual or group will be offset by the actions of other groups.  Due to this filtering, "textbook knowledge" in the classroom is generally more reliable than "research knowledge" at the frontiers, and the objectivity of science as a whole is greater than the objectivity of its individual participants.  { But a byproduct of filtering, not directly acknowledged by Bauer, is that the collective evaluations and dominant thought styles of a scientific community introduce a "community bias" into the process and content of science. }

THE 4Ps AND THOUGHT STYLES.   The puzzle and filter metaphors provide useful ways to visualize posing and persuading, respectively.  While scientists watch what others are doing with the puzzle of knowledge, they search for gaps to fill, for opportunities to pose a problem where an investment of their own resources is likely to be productive.  And the process of filtering is useful for describing the overall process of scientific persuasion, including its institutional procedures.
    PREPARATION.   There are mutual influences between thought styles and three ways to learn.  First, the formal education of students who will become future scientists is affected by the thought styles of current scientists and educators; in this way, current science education helps to shape thought styles in the future.  Second, thought styles influence what scientists learn from their own past and current research experience, to use in future research.  Third, thought styles influence the types of ideas that survive the "filtering" process and are published in journals and textbooks.
    POSING.   The thought style of a scientific community will affect every aspect of posing a problem: selecting an area to study, forming perceptions about the current state of knowledge in this area, and defining a desired goal-state for knowledge in the future.  Problem posing is important within science, and it plays a key role in the mutual interactions between science and society by influencing both of the main ways that science affects culture.  First, posing affects the investment of societal resources and the returns (such as medical-technological applications) that may arise from these investments.  Second, the questions asked by science, and the constraints on how these questions are answered, will help to shape cultural worldviews, concepts, and thinking patterns.
    PROBING.   As described above, both types of probing activities — observation and interpretation — are influenced by thought styles.
    PERSUASION.   For effective persuasion, arguments should be framed in the structure of current knowledge (so ideas can be more easily understood and appreciated by readers or listeners), with an acceptable style of presentation, in a way that will be convincing when judged by the standards of the evaluators, by carefully considering all factors — empirical, conceptual, and cultural-personal — that may influence the evaluation process at the levels of individuals and communities.  Doing all of these things skillfully requires a good working knowledge of the thought styles in a scientific culture.

VARIATIONS.   Thought styles vary from one field of science to another, and so does their influence on the process and content of science.  For example, the methodology of chemistry emphasizes controlled experiments, while geology and astronomy (or paleontology,...) depend mainly on observations from field studies.  And experiments in social science and medical science, which typically use a relatively small number of subjects, must be interpreted using a sophisticated analysis of sampling and statistics, by contrast with the statistical simplicity of chemistry experiments that involve a huge number of molecules.
    Differences between fields could be caused by a variety of contributing factors, including:  1) intrinsic differences in the areas of nature being studied;  2) differences in the observational techniques available for studying each area;  3) differences, due to self selection, in the cognitive styles, personalities, values, and metaphysical-ideological beliefs of scientists who choose to enter different fields;  4) historical contingencies.

CHANGE.   A model that is useful for analyzing change in science is proposed by Laudan (1984), whose "reticulated model of scientific rationality" is based on the mutual interactions between the goals, theories, and methods of scientists.  When a change in one of these produces a dissonant relationship between between any of them, in order to reduce the perceived dissonance there will be a motivation to make adjustments that will improve the overall logical harmony.  {examples}

    Variation and change are a part of science, and the study of methodological diversity and transformation can be fascinating and informative.  But these characteristics of science should be viewed in proper perspective.  It is important to balance a recognition of differences with an understanding of similarities, with an appreciation of the extent to which differences can be explained as "variations on a theme" — as variations on the basic methods shared by all scientists.

COMMUNITIES IN CONFLICT.   One interesting example of variation was a competition, beginning in 1961, to explain the phenomenon of oxidative phosphorylation in mitochondria.  In 1960 the widely accepted explanation assumed the existence of a chemical intermediate.  Even though an intermediate had never been found, its eventual discovery was confidently predicted, and this theory "was...considered an established fact of science. (Wallace, et al, 1986; p 140)"  But in 1961 Peter Mitchell proposed an alternative theory based on a principle of chemiosmosis.  Later, a third competitor, energy transduction, entered the battle, and for more than a decade these three theories — and their loyal defenders — were involved in heated controversy.
    This episode is a fascinating illustration of contrasting thought styles, with radically different approaches to solving the same problem.  Advocates of each theory built their own communities, each with its base of support from colleagues and institutions, and each with its own assumptions and preferences regarding theories, experimental techniques, and criteria for empirical and conceptual evaluation.  All aspects of science — including posing with its crucial question of which projects were most worthy of support — were hotly debated due to the conflicting perspectives and the corresponding differences in self-interest and in evaluations about the plausibility and utility of each theory.
    Eventually, chemiosmotic theory was declared the winner, and in 1978 Mitchell was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry.


    two examples of "reticulated change" in science:
    Conceptual criteria are formulated and adopted by people, and can be changed by people.  In 1600, noncircular motion in theories of astronomy was considered inappropriate, but in 1700 it was acceptable.  What caused this change?  The theories of Kepler and Newton.  First, Kepler formulated a description of planetary motions with orbits that were elliptical, not circular.  Later, Newton provided a theoretical explanation for Kepler's elliptical orbits by showing how they can be derived by combining his own laws of motion and principle of universal gravitation.  For a wide range of reasons, scientists considered these theories — which postulated noncircular celestial motions — to be successful, both empirically and conceptually, so the previous prohibition of noncircular motions was abandoned.  In this case the standard portrait of science was reversed.  Instead of using permanently existing criteria to evaluate proposed theories, already-accepted theories were used to evaluate and revise the evaluation criteria.
    Laudan (1977, 1984) describes a similar situation, with conflict between two beliefs, but this time the resolving of dissonance resulted in a more significant change, a change in the fundamental epistemological foundations of science.  Some early interpretations of Newton's methods claimed that he rigidly adhered to building theories by inductive generalization from observations, and refused to indulge in hypothetical speculation.  Although these claims are disputed by most modern analyses, they were influential in the early 1700s, and the apparently Newtonian methods were adopted by scientists who tried to continue Newton's development of empiricist theories (with core components derived directly from experience), and philosophers developed empiricist theories of knowledge.  But by the 1750s it was becoming apparent that many of the most successful theories, in a variety of fields, depended on the postulation of unobservable entities.  There was a conflict between these theories of science and the explicitly empiricist goals of science.  Rather than give up their non-empiricist theories, the scientists and philosophers "sought to legitimate the aim of understanding the visible world by means of postulating an invisible world whose behavior was causally responsible for what we do observe. ...  To make good on their proposed aims, they had to develop a new methodology of science,... the hypothetico-deductive method.  Such a method allowed for the legitimacy of hypotheses referring to theoretical entities, just so long as a broad range of correct observational claims could be derived from such hypotheses. (Laudan, 1984; p. 57)"

a diagram of Integrated Scientific Method

  Diagram of Scientific Method   


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Cultural-Personal Factors in Science (Part 1)
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