What Is Scientific Discovery?



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What Is Scientific Discovery?



Science is divided into innumerable disciplines and subdisciplines, but within any single discipline the progress of science calls for the most diverse repertoire of activities - activities so numerous and diverse that it would seem that any person could find one to his or her taste. Outsiders often regard science as a sober enterprise, but we who are inside see it as the most romantic of all callings. Both views are right. The romance adheres to the processes of scientific discovery, the sobriety to the re­sponsibility for verification.

Histories of science put the spotlight on discovery. Everyone knows by what accident Fleming discovered penicillin, but only specialists can tell us much about how that discovery was subsequently put to the test. Everyone knows of Kekule's dream of the benzene ring, but only chem­ists can tell us why the structure of that molecule was problematic, and how and when it was finally decided that the problem had been solved. The story of scientific progress reaches its periodic climaxes at the mo­ments of discovery; verification is the essential but not very glamorous aftermath - the sorting out of facts that comes after the tale's denoue­ment and tells us that matters worked out all right (if only for a while, as in the story of phlogiston).

The philosophy of science has taken a very different tack than the discipline of the history of science. In the philosophy of science, all the emphasis is on verification, on how we can tell the true gold of scientific law from the fool's gold of untested fantasy. In fact, it is still the majority view among philosophers of science that only verification is a proper subject of inquiry, that nothing of philosophical interest can be said about the process of discovery.

In one respect the philosophers are right. What distinguishes science from the other works of the human imagination is precisely the insist­ence on testing, on subjecting hypotheses to the most intense scrutiny with the help of empirical evidence. If we are to distinguish science from poetry, we must have a theory of verification or confirmation that tells us exactly how to make that distinction.

But we believe that science is also poetry, and - perhaps even more heretical - that discovery has its reasons, as poetry does. However ro­mantic and heroic we find the moment of discovery, we cannot believe cither that the events leading up to that moment are entirely random and chaotic or that they require genius that can be understood only by con­genial minds. We believe that finding order in the world must itself be a process impregnated with purpose and reason. We believe that the proc­ess of discovery can be described and modeled, and that there are better und worse routes to discovery - more and less efficient paths.

With that claim, we open ourselves to attack from the other flank. Do we think it is possible to write books of advice to poets? Are we not aware that writing poems (and making scientific discoveries) is a creative process, sometimes even calling for genius? But we can avoid dangerous terms like "genius" by asking more modest questions. We can at least inquire into the sufficient conditions for making a poem (or a discovery). If writing poetry calls for creativity, it also calls for craft. A poet becomes, a craftsman (if not a creative poet) by long study and practice. We might aspire to distill and write down what a poet learns in this arduous ap­prenticeship. If we did that, we would have a book on the writing of poetry (there are some such on the library shelves). Perhaps its advice would take us merely to the level of superior doggerel, but we could determine that only after we had tested the advice by experiment - by writing poetry on its principles. Thus, the question of how poetry is writ­ten (or can or should be written) becomes a researchable question, one that can be approached with the standard methods of scientific inquiry. This is no less true of scientific discovery than it is of poetry. Wheth­er there is method in discovery is a question whose answer is open to scientific study. We may fail to find methods that account for discovery, or for the greater success of some would-be discoverers than of others, but we are free to look for them. And if we arrive at some hypotheses about them, then we must test these just as we test any other hypotheses in science.

 

2. Переведите на русский язык следующие английские словосочетания:

1) social sciences;

2) human behaviour;

3) cultural (or so­cial) anthropology;

4) social psychology;

5) political science;

6) diverse repertoire;

7) scientific discovery;

8) scientific inquiry;

9) periodic climaxes;

10) con­genial minds.

 

3. Найдите в тексте английские эквиваленты следующих словосочетаний:

1) история науки;

2) философский интерес;

3) человеческое воображение;

4) эмпирические данные;

5) процесс открытия;

6) созидательный процесс;

7) стандартные методы;

8) научное исследование;

9) общественная активность;

10) прогресс науки.

4. Найдите в тексте слова, имеющие общий корень с данными словами. Определите, к какой части речи они относятся, и переведите их на русский язык:

 


1) istinguish;

2) history;

3) human;

4) re­sponsible;

5) problem;

6) final;

7) to test;

8) man;

9) research;

10) numeral.


5. Задайте к выделенному в тексте предложению все типы вопросов (общий, альтернативный, разделительный, специальный: а) к подлежащему; б) к второстепенному члену предложения).

 

6. Выполните анализ данных предложений, обратив внимание на следующие грамматические явления: времена группы Indefinite (Present, Past, Future Active& Passive); глаголы to be, to have; конструкция there is, there are; все типы вопросов; степени сравнения прилагательных; модальные глаголы:

3. For the purposes of this article, the two terms may be consid­ered synonymous.

4. In one respect the philosophers are right.

5. If we are to distinguish science from poetry, we must have a theory of verification or confirmation that tells us exactly how to make that distinction..

6. But we believe that science is also poetry, and - perhaps even more heretical - that discovery has its reasons, as poetry does..

7. We believe that finding order in the world must itself be a process impregnated with purpose and reason.

8. We may fail to find methods that account for discovery, or for the greater success of some would-be discoverers than of others, but we are free to look for them.

5. We believe that the proc­ess of discovery can be described and modeled, and that there are better und worse routes to discovery - more and less efficient paths.

 

7.Ответьте на вопросы по тексту:

1. How many social sciences are mentioned in the passage?

2. What are they?

3. What does the term behaviour sciences” mean?

4. What do the social sciences deal with?

5. What disciplines do the social sciences include?

6. What is the philosophy of science?

7. What is scientific discovery?



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