Theoretical Virtues in Scientific Practice: An Empirical Study

Download Edit this record How to cite View on PhilPapers
Abstract
It is a common view among philosophers of science that theoretical virtues (also known as epistemic or cognitive values), such as simplicity and consistency, play an important role in scientific practice. In this paper, I set out to study the role that theoretical virtues play in scientific practice empirically. I apply the methods of data science, such as text mining and corpus analysis, to study large corpora of scientific texts in order to uncover patterns of usage. These patterns of usage, in turn, might shed some light on the role that theoretical virtues play in scientific practice. Overall, the results of this empirical study suggest that scientists invoke theoretical virtues explicitly, albeit rather infrequently, when they talk about models (less than 30%), theories (less than 20%), and hypotheses (less than 15%) in their published works. To the extent that they are mentioned in scientific publications, the results of this study suggest that accuracy, consistency, and simplicity are the theoretical virtues that scientists invoke more frequently than the other theoretical virtues tested in this study. Interestingly, however, depending on whether they talk about hypotheses, theories, or models, scientists may invoke one of those theoretical virtues more than the others.
PhilPapers/Archive ID
MIZTVI
Revision history
Archival date: 2020-04-30
View upload history
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Added to PP index
2020-04-30

Total views
67 ( #38,810 of 50,279 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
67 ( #8,064 of 50,279 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads since first upload
This graph includes both downloads from PhilArchive and clicks to external links.