There is a pervasive idea that scientific advancement consists of "discovery," but that doesn't need to be how we conceptualize science. In this essay, I analyze the implications of science viewed as a process of discovery, and the limitations of thinking of science as exploring the unknown to find hidden information. I point out that information is rarely hidden, the correctness of a scientist's theory is no guarantee of their future success, and science flourishes more when tended to indirectly than incentivized.
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This is why I object to this essay'
First published Thu Mar 6, 2014; substantive revision Mon Oct 31, 2022
Scientific discovery is the process or product of successful scientific inquiry. Objects of discovery can be things, events, processes, causes, and properties as well as theories and hypotheses and their features (their explanatory power, for example). Most philosophical discussions of scientific discoveries focus on the generation of new hypotheses that fit or explain given data sets or allow for the derivation of testable consequences. Philosophical discussions of scientific discovery have been intricate and complex because the term “discovery” has been used in many different ways, both to refer to the outcome and to the procedure of inquiry. In the narrowest sense, the term “discovery” refers to the purported “eureka moment” of having a new insight. In the broadest sense, “discovery” is a synonym for “successful scientific endeavor” tout court. Some philosophical disputes about the nature of scientific discovery reflect these terminological variations.
Philosophical issues related to scientific discovery arise about the nature of human creativity, specifically about whether the “eureka moment” can be analyzed and about whether there are rules (algorithms, guidelines, or heuristics) according to which such a novel insight can be brought about. Philosophical issues also arise about the analysis and evaluation of heuristics, about the characteristics of hypotheses worthy of articulation and testing, and, on the meta-level, about the nature and scope of philosophical analysis itself. This essay describes the emergence and development of the philosophical problem of scientific discovery and surveys different philosophical approaches to understanding scientific discovery. In doing so, it also illuminates the meta-philosophical problems surrounding the debates, and, incidentally, the changing nature of philosophy of science.
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If we do not have discovery linked to Science then where does the "Eureka" moment come from ? This is the bottom line, if one does not do exploration, the chance of future "Eureka" moments drops dramatically.