Publication
Title
The role of orientation experiments in discovering mechanisms
Author
Abstract
Many types of experiments have been recognized in the literature. One important type we discuss in this article is the orientation experiment. While orientation experiments are like other types of experiments in that they are tests for causal relevance, they also have other qualities. One important (but not the only) goal of these experiments is to offer a rough, qualitative characterization of the mechanism responsible for a capacity of interest, effectively constraining future research. This makes them particularly useful during the early stages of investigation, when an explanandum-phenomenon has just been identified and several (often competing) hypotheses as to the qualitative character of the mechanism responsible for it are proposed. We illustrate our claims, and explicate a number of additional aims that orientation experiments can sometimes serve, by considering three case studies from different era's, namely the discovery of the mechanisms responsible for i) the capacity of eels to produce numbing sensations (17th and 18th century), ii) puerperal fever in Semmelweis' Vienna Maternity Hospital (19th century), and iii) the capacity of pigeons to home (20th century).
Language
English
Source (journal)
Studies in history and philosophy of science: part A
Publication
2015
Volume/pages
54(2015), p. 46-55
ISI
000366073700006
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (open access)
The author-created version that incorporates referee comments and is the accepted for publication version Available from 01.01.2019
Full text (publisher's version - intranet only)
UAntwerpen
Faculty/Department
Research group
Publication type
Subject
External links
Web of Science
Record
Identification
Creation 13.04.2016
Last edited 10.08.2017