In the Way of Inquiry • Justification Trap

There is a particular type of “justification trap” that a person can fall into, of trying to prove the scientific method by solely deductive means, that is, of trying to show that the scientific method is a good method by starting from the simplest possible axioms, principles that everyone would accept, about what is good.

Often this happens, in spite of the fact that one really knows better, simply in the process of arranging one’s thoughts in a rational order, say, from the most elementary and independent to the most complex and derivative, as if for the sake of a logical and summary exposition.  But when does this rearrangement cease to be a rational reconstruction and start to become a destructive rationalization, a distortion of the genuine article, and a falsification of the authentic inquiry that it attempts to recount?

Sometimes people express their recognition of this trap and their appreciation of the factor that it takes to escape it by saying that there is really no such thing as the scientific method, that the very term “scientific method” is a misnomer and does not refer to any kind of method at all, in sum, that the development of knowledge cannot be reduced to any fixed method because it involves in an essential way such a large component of non-methodical activities.  If one’s idea of what counts as method is fixed on the ideal of a deductive procedure then it is not surprising that one draws this conclusion.

This entry was posted in C.S. Peirce, Inquiry, Inquiry Driven Systems, Inquiry Into Inquiry, Intelligent Systems, Peirce, Semiotics and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to In the Way of Inquiry • Justification Trap

  1. Peter Jones says:

    Justification can be overcome easily, if one has the stomach .

    What I say is, okay, I was wrong! Or explaining why I used to think one way, and what I discovered or connected that made me see differently. I think I have some freedoms that others don’t, though, in that I don’t have a position to defend that carries a salary. But even when I did, I always believed in honesty wherever and whenever possible, and it was not this that adversely affected my career path.

    We’re on a journey, and often reach turnings in the road… Can we be philosophical about it?

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