“Technique-Driven Research: Clarifying the nature of exploratory experimentation” (4/6/17)

May 24, 2017

David Colaco

Abstract: Recently, historians and philosophers of science have sought to account for experimental research that is not driven by the evaluation of theory, but instead is motivated by the desire to explore.  Along these lines, I discuss how techniques can drive research and allow scientists to explore systems.  I describe the preparation technique CLARITY, which drives cutting-edge microscopy research in neuroscience.  Though technique-driven research is exploratory and experimental, it fails to satisfy the conditions of several popular accounts of exploratory experimentation.  In light of this discrepancy, I critically assess these accounts, and reappraise what conditions are necessary for exploratory research.


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