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[Fizinfo] Philosophy of Science Colloquium, Friedrich Steinle

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  • From: "Laszlo E. Szabo" <leszabo AT>
  • To: Multiple recipients of list <koglist AT>, fizinfo <fizinfo AT>
  • Subject: [Fizinfo] Philosophy of Science Colloquium, Friedrich Steinle
  • Date: Tue Jun 4 09:56:01 2002
  • List-archive: <>
  • List-id: ELFT HRAD <>

Eotvos University, Budapest
Pazmany P. setany 1/A Budapest
Phone/Fax: (36-1) 372 2924
Department's Home Page:

Philosophy of Science Colloquium
Room 6.54 (6th floor) Monday 4:00 PM
10 June 4:00 PM 6th floor 6.54
Language of presentation: English

Friedrich Steinle
Institute for Philosophy, Bern University
Max-Planck-Institute for the History of Science, Berlin

Discovering? Justifying?
Experiments in History and Philosophy of Science

The philosophical 'standard view' on experiment - finding the only
epistemic function of experiment in the tests of well-formulated
hypotheses - is closely connected to an implicit or explicit distinction
of the contexts of discovery and justification. Recent studies, however,
have opened more differentiated perspectives. In particular, there is a
specific type of experiments discernible which I call "exploratory."
Typically, it occurs in situations in which there is not only no theory
available, but even the very concepts and categories of a subject field
are opened to revision. Periods of exploratory experimentation often end
up with a new conceptualization of the field, providing new outlooks
and, at the same time, rendering other ones literally unspeakable.
Exploratory experimentation can be contrasted to a more theory-driven
type in many respects epistemic, procedural, instrumental, situative.
Though it might be tempting to attribute those two types again to a
dichotomy between discovery and justification, a closer look makes clear
that such a view is inappropriate. At the same time, fundamental
shortcomings of that distinction itself become visible. In my talk, I
shall both explicate those claims in general terms and substantiate them
by cases of experimental research in the history of electricity.
Moreover, I shall propose a more promising perspective onto research
practice and discuss where and why some type of discovery-justification
distinction might well be appropriate.


The 60-minute lecture is followed by a 5-minute break. Then
we held a 30-60-minute discussion.The participants may comment the talks and
initiate discussion on the Internet. The comments should be written in the
language of the presentation.

The organizer of the colloquium:
Laszlo E. Szabo (email:
leszabo AT

Laszlo E. Szabo
Department of Theoretical Physics
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
Eotvos University, Budapest
H-1518 Budapest, Pf. 32, Hungary
Phone/Fax: (36-1)372-2924
Home: (36-1) 200-7318
Mobil/SMS: (36) 20-366-1172

  • [Fizinfo] Philosophy of Science Colloquium, Friedrich Steinle, Laszlo E. Szabo, 06/03/2002

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