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The Scientific Method

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 26 January 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the evolution of the Scientific Method, the systematic and analytical approach to scientific thought.

In 1620 the great philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon published the Novum Organum, a work outlining a new system of thought which he believed should inform all enquiry into the laws of nature. Philosophers before him had given their attention to the reasoning that underlies scientific enquiry; but Bacon's emphasis on observation and experience is often seen today as giving rise to a new phenomenon: the scientific method.

The scientific method, and the logical processes on which it is based, became a topic of intense debate in the seventeenth century, and thinkers including Isaac Newton, Thomas Huxley and Karl Popper all made important contributions. Some of the greatest discoveries of the modern age were informed by their work, although even today the term 'scientific method' remains difficult to define.

With:

Simon Schaffer
Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge

John Worrall
Professor of the Philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science

Michela Massimi
Senior Lecturer in the Philosophy of Science at University College London.

Producer: Thomas Morris.

  • FURTHER READING

    Samir Okasha, ‘Philosophy of Science: A Very Short Introduction’ (Oxford Paperbacks, 2002)

    Harry Collins and Trevor Pinch, ‘The Golem: What You Should Know About Science’ (Cambridge University Press, 1998)

    Barry Gower, ‘Scientific Method: A Historical and Philosophical Introduction’
    (Routledge, 1997)

    Barry Barnes, ‘About Science’ (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985)

    Peter Achinstein (ed), ‘Science Rules: A Historical Introduction to Scientific Methods’ (Johns Hopkins Press, 2004)

    John Losee, ‘A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science’ (OUP, 2001)

    Pierre Duhem, ‘To Save the Phenomena: An essay on the idea of physical theory from Plato to Galileo’ (First published 1908, University of Chicago Press - English translation, 1969)

    Paul Feyerabend, ‘Against Method’ (London: Verso, 1993)

    Thomas Kuhn, ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ (University of Chicago Press, 1962)

    Karl Popper, ‘Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge’ (Routledge, 1963)

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