Tempering Nature: Experimental Practice in the Natural Sciences

By James A. Marcum.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 20, 2014 $US5.00

A notion of experimental practice for the natural sciences is explicated in terms of three key concepts. The first is scientific worldviews, which are composed of values, attitudes and metaphysical commitments, theories and laws, and hypotheses. The next key concept is experimentation, which includes the structure and characteristics of experiments. The final key concept is the natural world, which is taken to manifest itself in terms of experimental outcomes interpreted as empirical facts. This notion of experimental practice is designated ‘tempering’ nature, since scientists strive to understand the natural world by manipulating and controlling it experimentally—especially through measuring it—and by combining nature with their views of it experimentally. Finally, it forms the foundation or core science for other problem-solving strategies or sciences—such as applied or post-normal science.

Keywords: Applied Science, Core Science, Experimentation, Natural Sciences, Natural World, Normal Science, Post-Normal Science, Worldview

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 5, Issue 2, June 2014, pp.37-52. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 20, 2014 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 652.529KB)).

James A. Marcum

Professor, Department of Philosophy, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA

James A. Marcum is professor of philosophy and director of the Medical Humanities Program at Baylor University in USA. He received doctorates in philosophy from Boston College and in physiology from the University of Cincinnati Medical College. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a faculty member of Harvard Medical School before coming to Baylor University. He has received grants from several funding agencies, including the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and the American Heart Association. His research interests include philosophical and historical issues in science and medicine. Examples of his recent publications include articles in Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics, Synthese, Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Perspectives on Science, Annals of Science, and History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences.