Philosophical Aspects of Scientific Discovery: A Historical Survey

Keiichi Noe

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1 Citation (Scopus)


This paper is intended as an investigation of scientific discoveries from a philosophical point of view. In the first half of this century, most of philosophers rather concentrated on the logical analysis of science and set the problem of discovery aside. Logical positivists distinguished a context of discovery from a context of justification and excluded the former from their analysis of scientific theories. Although Popper criticized their inductivism and suggested methodological falsificationism, he also left the elucidation of discovery to psychological inquiries. The problem of scientific discovery was proprely treated for the first time by the "New Philosophy of Science" school in the 1960's. Hanson reevaluated the method of "retroduction" on the basis of Peirce's logical theory and analysed Kepler's astronomical discovery in detail as a typical application of it. Kuhn's theory of paradigm located discoveries in the context of scientific revolutions. Moreover, he paid attention to the function of metaphor in scientific discoveries. Metaphorical use of existing terms and concepts to overcome theoretical difficulties often plays a decisive role in developping new ideas. In the period of scientific revolution, theoretical metaphors can open up new horizons of scientific research by way of juxtapositions of heterogeneous concepts. To explicate such a complicated situation we need the "rhetoric" of science rather than the "logic" of science.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3-9
Number of pages7
JournalIEICE Transactions on Information and Systems
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2000 Jan 1


  • Falsification
  • Metaphor
  • Paradigm
  • Rhetoric

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence

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