History and Philosophy of Physics


On Causality, Impossibility, and "The Scientific Method"

Authors: Roger Ellman

The ancient philosophers attempted to address science issues by reasoning conducted largely without experimentation. Scientists from Galileo onward developed "The Scientific Method", the procedure of: observations - hypothesis - experiments iterated with adjustments each iteration until a satisfactory result obtained. They also criticized the ancient philosophers for the defect of their neglect of experimentation, and rightly so. But "The Scientific Method" of modern science has its own defect, one just as severe and damaging as that of the ancients: modern science too often neglects mechanism or causation. It accepts explanations and hypotheses on the basis of experiments and predictions without treating the problem of how and why the experimental or predicted behavior occurs. Non-attending to mechanism and causation sometimes leads to seriously proposing a hypothesis that is actually physically impossible.

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[v1] 13 Jul 2008

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