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An Investigation of Scientific Phenomena

Colaco, David (2019) An Investigation of Scientific Phenomena. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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To determine how things work, researchers first must determine what things occur. Such an idea seems simple, but it highlights a fundamental aspect of science: endeavors to theorize, explain, model, or control often result from first determining and adequately characterizing the targets of these practices. This dissertation is an investigation of how researchers determine one important kind of target: scientific phenomena. In doing so, I analyze how characterizations of these phenomena are formulated, defended, revised, and rejected in light of empirical research. I focus on three questions. First, what do characterizations of scientific phenomena represent? To answer this, I investigate what it means to characterize a phenomenon, as opposed to describing the results of individual studies. Second, how do researchers develop these characterizations? This question relates to the logic of discovery: I examine how researchers use existing theories and methods to explore systems, search for phenomena, and develop representations of them. Third, how do researchers evaluate these characterizations? This question relates to the logic of justification: I investigate how empirical findings serve as defeasible evidence for the characterizations of phenomena and in light of what evidence we should accept, suspend judgment about, or reject them.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Colaco, Daviddjc60@pitt.edudjc60
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMachery,
Committee MemberChirimuuta,
Committee MemberSchaffner,
Committee MemberWoodward,
Committee MemberBechtel,
Date: 24 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 June 2019
Approval Date: 24 September 2019
Submission Date: 13 June 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 165
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Scientific Phenomena; Philosophy of Science; Experiment
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2019 19:46
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2019 19:46


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