What accounts for the spectacular success of contemporary genetics and allied sciences?
The usual explanation of scientific success is theory-focused. It assumes that investigation
is based on a core theory that grasps the fundamentals underlying the domain of phenomena
being investigated. Waters is developing an alternative explanation that draws attention
to concrete descriptive knowledge, procedural knowledge, and research strategies.
These elements are integrated with modest theoretical knowledge to form what he calls
an investigative matrix. According to this practice-centered epistemology, an investigative
matrix can be used to systematically investigate phenomena that are not explained,
even potentially explained, by the modest theoretical knowledge upon which the research
depends. On this view, the success of a mature science need not be based on theoretical
knowledge of the fundamentals. Instead, it can be based on investigative strategies
that presuppose a modest theory of limited aspects of the domain being investigated.
In this talk, Waters will show that the theoretical basis of success in contemporary
genetics and molecular biology can be understood in this way.
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