A Case Study in the Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation: Electron-Proton Inelastic Scattering Program in High Energy Particle Physics

dc.contributor.authorKoray Karaca
dc.contributor.otherBill Newman and Jutta Schickore
dc.description.abstractIn this paper, I address the issue of to what extent the theory-dominated view of scientific experimentation describes scientific practice. I rely on a time period from the history of High Energy Physics (HEP), which spans from early 1960s to early 1970s. I argue that theory-ladenness of experimentation (TLE), which grounds theory-dominated conception of experimentation is too coarse-grained inasmuch as it prevents us from seeing the correct relationship that exists between theorizing and experimenting in the scientific practice of HEP. I articulate that in order to be able to get a better understanding of scientific practice, a revision needs to be made in the general conception of TLE. I propose that such a revision is possible if we abandon the commitment that experimentation is always driven by theory. I consider what I call “theory-drivenness” of experimentation (TDE) as a form of theory-ladenness, which amounts to the claim that experiments, from their initial design up to their final stage, are carried out under the framework of a prevailing theory for the purpose of providing definite answers to specific questions already posed by the same theory. I argue that electron-proton inelastic scattering experiments in HEP were firstly carried out without having any recourse to a phenomenological model. From here, I claim that these experiments are not theory-laden in the sense implied by TDE. On the other hand, I argue, inelastic scattering experiments are theory-laden due to the fact that the scientists who perform them are committed to background theories of HEP. That is, I admit the validity of TLE as a philosophical claim, but I attribute a weaker status to it as opposed to its general conception. That is, I propose to differentiate TDE from TLE by claiming that TLE does not entail TDE.
dc.relation.ispartofseries1; Thematic: Experimentation
dc.relation.isversionofPreprint, http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/3674/
dc.subjectexperiment, theory-ladenness, case study
dc.subjectphysics, particle physics
dc.titleA Case Study in the Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation: Electron-Proton Inelastic Scattering Program in High Energy Particle Physics


Original bundle

Now showing 1 - 1 of 1
Thumbnail Image
A Case Study in the Philosophy of Scientific Experimentation.pdf
77.04 KB
Adobe Portable Document Format


Can’t use the file because of accessibility barriers? Contact us with the title of the item, permanent link, and specifics of your accommodation need.