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Studies in the Methodology of Science

Igor Hanzel

The book discusses methodological issues relating to the philosophy of science and the natural and social sciences. It reconstructs the methods of measurement and scientific explanation, the relation of data, phenomena and mechanisms, the problem of theory-ladenness of explanation and the problem of historic explanation. From the sciences chosen for methodological analysis are those of early classical mechanics, early thermodynamics, Bohr’s theory of atom, early quantum mechanics, research into great apes and political economy.
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Chapter 3: Observability and Theory-Ladenness of Observation: Myths and Facts

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This chapter analyzes issues which can be regarded as central for both philosophy and methodology of science, as well as for epistemology, namely, observability and theory-ladenness of observation.

I will start with an overview of the approach taken by the logical positivists of the early 1930’s to the issue of observability and indicate how this approach changed in the framework of logical empiricism from the mid-1930’s until its final demise in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s. Then, I shall deal briefly with the issues of observability and theory-ladenness of observation as understood by P. K. Feyerabend in the 1960’s.

Instead of dealing with the more recent philosophical analyses,34 my intra-philosophical approach to these two issues will stop here (i.e., with Feyerabend’s analysis), because I want to take another approach to them, by dealing with a specific period in the history of science. Here I mean the formulation of Bohr’s theory of the hydrogen atom dealt with in Chapter 2, which I employ here as a case study upon which, then, will be based my proposal of an epistemological generalization and, finally, a resolution of problems surrounding the issues of observability, theory-ladenness of observability, as well the place of practical operations in science.

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