Short Answer Questions (submit online)
- What distinguishes the inductivist view of theory change from the modest conventionalist?
- Explain the role of positive and negative heuristics in Lakatos' Scientific Research Programmes.
- When does Lakatos consider a research programme to be progressing/stagnating?
For Further Discussion
- Scientific Research Programmes. The Lakatos proposal treats scientific theories on the analogy of a fortified city with a moat. Remind yourself of how this works.
- Can you think of an example of a "hard core" and "protective belt" in the context of your favourite natural or social science? (Economics? Politics? Biology? Physics?)
- Is Lakatos' approach the correct way to determine whether a scientific research programme is healthy? Can you think of any current or past research programmes that were obviously healthy or unhealthy?
- What causes theory change according to Lakatos? (Hint: It can happen without an anomaly, and without any falsification.) Is this a plausible account of theory change? Can you think of any counterexamples?
- Four views of theory change. Explain how each of the four perspectives below deals with 1) facts, 2) theory, 3) revolutions and 3) a code of honour. Which are reasonable? Which are not?
- Paradigm examples. In lecture we saw a paradigm historical episode that illustrates each of these four accounts of theories. What are they? Can you think of any of your episodes in the history of science that serve as good examples for each?
- Rational Reconstructions. Lakatos is providing both a normative and a descriptive account of how scientific discovery works; normative because it suggests scientific practice should go a certain way, and description because it suggests that science does proceed in that way, at least roughly.
- Is the normative statement correct? Should science proceed according to the code of honour of a good scientific research programme?
- Is the descriptive statement correct? Lakatos admits his proposal is a rational reconstruction of the way science works, but suggests that one has no other option. Does the notion of a scientific research programme describe the nature of theory change sufficiently?