About Method: Experimenters, Snake Venom, And The History Of Writing Scientifically

Hardcover | April 10, 2017

byJutta Schickore

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Scientists’ views on what makes an experiment successful have developed dramatically throughout history. Different criteria for proper experimentation were privileged at different times, entirely new criteria for securing experimental results emerged, and the true meaning of commitment to experimentation altered. In About Method, Schickore captures this complex trajectory of change from 1660 to the twentieth century through the history of snake venom research. As experiments with poisonous snakes and venom were both challenging and controversial, the experimenters produced very detailed records of their investigations, which go back three hundred years—making it uniquely suited for such a long-term study. By analyzing key episodes in the transformation of venom research, Schickore is able to draw out the factors that have shaped methods discourse.
 
About Method shows that methodological advancement throughout history has not been simply a steady progression towards better, more sophisticated and improved methodologies of experimentation. Rather, it was a progression in awareness of the obstacles and limitations that scientists face in developing strategies to overcome the myriad unknown complexities of nature. The first long-term history of this development and of snake venom research, About Method offers a major contribution to integrated history and philosophy of science.
 

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Scientists’ views on what makes an experiment successful have developed dramatically throughout history. Different criteria for proper experimentation were privileged at different times, entirely new criteria for securing experimental results emerged, and the true meaning of commitment to experimentation altered. In About Method, Schic...

Jutta Schickore is associate professor of history and philosophy of science and medicine at Indiana University. She is the author of The Microscope and the Eye: A History of Reflections, 1740-1870, also published by the University of Chicago Press.  
Format:HardcoverDimensions:320 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.98 inPublished:April 10, 2017Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022644998X

ISBN - 13:9780226449982

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Table of Contents

Introduction: “A matter so obscure, so difficult, and likewise so new . . .”
Chapter 1. Argument, Narrative, and Methods Discourse
Chapter 2. Many, Many Experiments
Chapter 3. Trying Again
Chapter 4. Newtonian Poison: A Mechanical Account of Viper Venom
Chapter 5. Experiment as the Only Guide
Chapter 6. Thousands of Experiments
Chapter 7. Practical Criticisms
Chapter 8. Controlling Experiment
Chapter 9. Unobservables
Chapter 10. Fragmentation and Modularity: Notes on Crotoxin
Conclusion: About Methods
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index