Locke on Scientific Methodology

In Jessica Gordon-Roth & Shelley Weinberg (eds.), The Lockean Mind. pp. 277-89 (2021)
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This chapter brings some much-needed conceptual clarity to the debate about Locke’s scientific methodology. Instead of having to choose between the method of hypothesis and that of natural history (as most interpreters have thought), he would resist prescribing a single method for natural sciences in general. Following Francis Bacon and Robert Boyle, Locke separates medicine and natural philosophy (physics), so that they call for completely different methods. While a natural philosopher relies on “speculative” (causal-theoretical) hypotheses together with natural-history making to explicate phenomena, a medical practitioner must prioritize collecting data about what remedies tend to cure what diseases over hypothesizing about the causes of the latter.
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