The Role of Imagination in Social Scientific Discovery: Why Machine Discoverers Will Need Imagination Algorithms

In Mark Addis, Fernand Gobet & Peter Sozou (eds.), Scientific Discovery in the Social Sciences. Springer (forthcoming)
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Abstract
When philosophers discuss the possibility of machines making scientific discoveries, they typically focus on discoveries in physics, biology, chemistry and mathematics. Observing the rapid increase of computer-use in science, however, it becomes natural to ask whether there are any scientific domains out of reach for machine discovery. For example, could machines also make discoveries in qualitative social science? Is there something about humans that makes us uniquely suited to studying humans? Is there something about machines that would bar them from such activity? A close look at the methodology of interpretive social science reveals several abilities necessary to make a social scientific discovery, and one capacity necessary to possess any of them is imagination. For machines to make discoveries in social science, therefore, they must possess imagination algorithms.
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Archival date: 2018-03-04
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The Book of Evidence.Achinstein, Peter

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