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

Hardcover | May 19, 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 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 accounts of their investigations, which go back three hundred years—making venom research 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 in science.
 
About Method shows that methodological advancement throughout history has not been simply a steady progression toward 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 probe 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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From the Publisher

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 meaning of commitment to experimentation altered. In About Method, Schickore ...

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:May 19, 2017Publisher:University of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022644998X

ISBN - 13:9780226449982

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Extra Content

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

Editorial Reviews

“Following The Microscope and the Eye, Schickore has produced another sophisticated treatise giving a fully historicized view of scientific knowledge and scientific methodology as dynamically evolving entities. She weaves together history, philosophy, and science into a coherent and pleasing tapestry. Her choice of subject matter in About Method is itself a testament to her sharp eye for a phase of the history of science that reveals easily overlooked aspects of practice and effectively exposes the blind spots in standard philosophical discourse. Under her deft treatment, the long and complicated history of research on snake venom emerges not only as a fascinating episode in its own right but also as a rich source of insights for a new general framework for philosophical thinking on scientific methodology. Schickore’s historical reflections also have plenty of pertinence to current methodological debates in science, such as the ongoing ‘replication crisis’ in biology and psychology.”