On How Watson and Crick Discovered what Watson and Crick had Suggested: The "Folk" Concept of Discovery Rediscovered

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 30 (1):7 - 30 (2008)
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Abstract

This article opens with general and historical remarks on philosophy of science's problems with the concept of discovery. Then, drawing upon simple examples of Watson's and Crick's non-philosophical usage, I characterize phrases of the type "x discovers y" semantically. It will subsequently be shown how widespread philosophical discussion on discovery violates the semantic constraints of phrases of the type "x discovers y." Then I provide a philosophical reconstruction of "x discovers y" that is in keeping with the "folk" notion of discovery. The philosophical ingredients of this approach are taken from a certain aspect of action theory and from epistemological reliabilism. The approach draws upon the concept of superior action and connects this concept to progressive research. In contrast to normal actions, superior actions are primarily explained by competencies. This perspective includes reminders of what some nineteenth-century philosopher-scientists had advocated as a competence-oriented view on scientific research. Finally, this approach is applied to the case of Watson's and Crick's discovery

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Ulrich Charpa
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

Citations of this work

Philosophy of Science in Germany, 1992–2012: Survey-Based Overview and Quantitative Analysis.Matthias Unterhuber, Alexander Gebharter & Gerhard Schurz - 2014 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 45 (1):71-160.
Darwin, Schleiden, Whewell, and the “London Doctors”: Evolutionism and Microscopical Research in the Nineteenth Century.Ulrich Charpa - 2010 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 41 (1):61-84.
Darwin, Schleiden, Whewell, and the "London Doctors": Evolutionism and Microscopical Research in the Nineteenth Century. [REVIEW]Ulrich Charpa - 2010 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 41 (1):61 - 84.

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