FW: Science without laws

I'm forwarding this post from the evaluation list to the CSG list on the chance that some might find it relevant, interesting and useful.

···

--
Fred Nickols
Toolmaker to Knowledge Workers
www.skullworks.com
nickols@att.net
    
-------------- Forwarded Message: --------------
From: Eric Weir <eeweir@BELLSOUTH.NET>
To: EVALTALK@BAMA.UA.EDU
Subject: Science without laws
Date: Thu, 1 Nov 2007 15:21:55 +0000

Just came across what looks to be an extremely interesting article in
the current issue of The Scientist that takes off from the use of models
in the biological sciences to argue for a conception of science in which
laws play no role. The article is actually an excerpt from a book,
Science Without Laws: Model Systems, Cases, Exemplary Narratives
<http://www.dukeupress.edu/books.php3?isbn=978-0-8223-4068-3>/, Duke
University Press (2007), edited by Angela N. H. Creager, Elizabeth
Lunbeck, and M. Norton Wise./ The URL for the excerpt is
http://www.the-scientist.com/news/home/53786/#

The following quote conveys a sense of the position being argued.
Referring to the use of models in biology, the writers say, "We suggest
that insofar as similar objects inhabit spaces far beyond biology
laboratories, the same distinctions extend to other areas, areas where
relations of similarity rather than deduction have grounded claims to
generality and where specificity has been a resource rather than a problem."

Appears relevant to the conversation around the quantity/quality,
generalization/description distinctions in evaluation. The fact that the
case is argued from a characterization of the biological sciences is
especially interesting given the appeal advocates of RCT make to the
biological sciences in arguing for the centrality of RCTs in the
development of scientific knowledge.

Could it be that the advocates of RCT don't understand the biological
sciences all that well? I doubt the article, or the book, will settle
that question, but at least it appears to be a legitimate one.

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Eric Weir
Decatur, GA USA
eeweir@bellsouth.net

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.01.1910)]

···

On 11/1/07, nickols@att.net <nickols@att.net> wrote:

I'm forwarding this post from the evaluation list to the CSG list on the chance that some might find it relevant, interesting and useful.

> The following quote conveys a sense of the position being argued.
> Referring to the use of models in biology, the writers say, "We suggest
> that insofar as similar objects inhabit spaces far beyond biology
> laboratories, the same distinctions extend to other areas, areas where
> relations of similarity rather than deduction have grounded claims to
> generality and where specificity has been a resource rather than a problem."
>
> Appears relevant to the conversation around the quantity/quality,
> generalization/description distinctions in evaluation. The fact that the
> case is argued from a characterization of the biological sciences is
> especially interesting given the appeal advocates of RCT make to the
> biological sciences in arguing for the centrality of RCTs in the
> development of scientific knowledge.

What's RTC?

Based on a quick look at the article it looks like they have a very
different idea of the meaning of "model" than I do.

What do you think about this stuff, Fred?

Best

Rick

--
Richard S. Marken PhD
rsmarken@gmail.com

[From Fred Nickols (2007.11.02.0732 ET)]

Regarding the link to an excerpt from an article about models in biology, Rick replies:
    

[From Rick Marken (2007.11.01.1910)]

What's RTC?

I'm not sure. I'll recheck the excerpt and see if it's spelled out.

Based on a quick look at the article it looks like they have a very
different idea of the meaning of "model" than I do.

That would be my guess. They use "model" as an exemplar or analogue. The math comes later.

What do you think about this stuff, Fred?

Well, it seems to me that the behaviorists' work with pigeons and dogs and so on used those "subjects" as "models" in the sense that term is used in the excerpt. It also seems to me that PCT experimenters could do the same thing, that is, use non-human subjects to illustrate aspects of PCT and make the links to human behavior.

Next time I'll think before passing along what appears to me to be a possibly interesting link.

Regards,

···

--
Fred Nickols
Toolmaker to Knowledge Workers
www.skullworks.com
nickols@att.net

[From Mike Acree (2007.11.02.0925 PDT)]

Fred Nickols (2007.11.02.0732 ET)--

What's RTC?

I'm not sure. I'll recheck the excerpt and see if it's spelled out.

I took it to be a reference to randomized controlled trials (I think the
original said RCT).

Next time I'll think before passing along what appears to me to be a
possibly interesting link.

I hope not. I thought this one was interesting, even though I may not
get to the book before January. I might even say something about it
myself at that point, if nobody else has.

Mike