What is a Beautiful Experiment?

Erkenntnis 88 (8):3419-3437 (2022)
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This article starts an engagement on the aesthetics of experiments and offers an account for analysing how aesthetics features in the design, evaluation and reception of experiments. I identify two dimensions of aesthetic evaluation of experiments: design and significance. When it comes to design, a number of qualities, such as simplicity, economy and aptness, are analysed and illustrated with the famous Meselson-Stahl experiment. Beautiful experiments are also regarded to make significant discoveries, but I argue against a narrow construal of experimental aims. By drawing on the plurality of goals experimenters have and diversity of aesthetic responses, I argue that experiments are aesthetically appreciated both when they discover and when they produce disruptive results.

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Author's Profile

Milena Ivanova
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

The aesthetic value of scientific experiments.Milena Ivanova - 2023 - In Milena Ivanova & Alice Murphy (eds.), The Aesthetics of Scientific Experiments. New York, NY: Routledge.
Scientific experiments beyond surprise and beauty.Anatolii Kozlov - 2023 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 13 (3):1-22.

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References found in this work

How the laws of physics lie.Nancy Cartwright - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
The aim and structure of physical theory.Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem - 1954 - Princeton,: Princeton University Press.
Idealization and the Aims of Science.Angela Potochnik - 2017 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Explaining Imagination.Peter Langland-Hassan - 2020 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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