Nature of Laboratory Method and Components of Science:
Posted by khuram on August 28, 2006
Is laboratory experimentation method inductive in nature? (Note: the term ‘inductive’ here is used with its old meanings i.e. generalization):
We know that ‘principles’ are the abstract generalizations of various natural phenomena. These principles are not the results of any laboratory experimentation. Laboratory experimentation, in fact is used just to ‘objectively’ verify the truth of the principle. The concept of laboratory method seems opposite to the concept of induction i.e. generalization.
Again see that:
“Principles are abstract generalizations of various natural phenomena.”
The thing, which is to be objectively verified through the laboratory method, is already ‘general’ in nature. This thing (i.e. principle) not only is ‘general’ but also is ‘abstract’.
The laboratory method is opposite to induction because in the laboratory method, we try to confirm the truth of ‘abstractly generalized’ principle by translating it into a ‘material particular’ occurrence.
If the results of that ‘material particular’ occurrence give the same value as was suggested by the ‘abstract generalized principle’, then we consider that the truth of the ‘abstract generalized principle’ has been confirmed.
These concepts can be explained with the help of example. The ‘abstract generalized principle’ for example is that: “material objects, that happen to be support less within the gravitational pull of any massive object, shall fall towards that massive object.” This ‘principle’ is ‘abstract’ as well as ‘generalized’. It is ‘abstract’ because it does not talk of any ‘particular’ material object or any ‘particular’ massive object. It means that the ‘material object’ can be a ball, can be a stone etc. Similarly, the ‘massive object’ can be earth, moon, mars or any such heavenly body having considerable gravitational pull. Since this principle does not talk of any particular material object or any particular massive object so this (principle) is considered abstract. And since this principle does not talk of any particular event but talks of any event that fulfills the conditions, so this principle is considered ‘generalized’. It means that this ‘principle’ is not telling that a material object shall fall towards a massive object. It is telling that all the material objects, always shall fall towards any massive object if happen to be support less in the range of the gravitational pull of that massive object. So the principle is not applicable to only a particular event but it is generally applicable to all such events that fulfill the requirements of the principle.
How we can ‘translate’ this ‘abstract generalized principle’ into a ‘material particular occurrence’? What we need in order to do this? Actually we need a ‘particular’ material object such as a ball, and a ‘particular’ massive object such as earth. In this way we translate the principle from being ‘abstract’ to a ‘material’ principle. Then we have to perform a ‘particular’ event that fulfills the conditions of the original principle. It means that we have to left a ‘ball’ support less in the range of the gravitational pull of the ‘earth’. This particular event shall be the ‘material particular occurrence’. Now we have to see the results i.e. the value given by this ‘material particular event’ in order to verify that this value is the same as was suggested by the ‘abstract general principle’ or not. So if the ball actually would fall towards earth on that particular occurrence, we actually would have confirmed the accuracy of the ‘abstract general principle’.
Principles are not discovered as a result of any laboratory experimentation. These are in fact the result of observations of ordinary phenomenon and then thinking and imaginative activities of human mind. Such principles can be the result of combined efforts of more than one mind. Laboratory method is just a tool which is used to objectively verify those principles.
Some principles however have been claimed to be the outcome of laboratory experimentation. For example the ‘method to produce sulfuric acid’ by Jobber bin Hayaan and the ‘relative constancy of the speed of light’ by Michealson and Morlay etc. have been claimed to be the outcome of the laboratory experimentation.
The actual situations were however different from these claims. The ‘principles’ derived in these experiments were ‘accidentally derived’. The objectives of the laboratory experimentation were different. Those accidental results which were ‘observed’ during the laboratory experimentation, which were being performed to verify entirely different issues, just served the purpose of a newly observed new information which paved the way for the formation of new principles as a result of mind activity which was the ‘idea generation process’. So it was not laboratory method which led towards the formation of generalized principles. Those ‘laboratory experiments’ were just accidentally observed new information that led to the formation of new generalized principles.
In laboratory method, actually we observe, under controlled conditions, the results of particular occurrence not for to form new generalized principles but for to confirm the objective validity and truth of an already known generalized principle. Therefore laboratory method is not inductive in nature. It does not give generalized results. It only tests a particular material occurrence, under controlled conditions. This occurrence is the ‘material particular’ translation of an ‘abstract generalized’ principle. The result of the laboratory experimentation is also ‘material particular’. But this result has to verify the truth of the given ‘abstract generalized principle’. So particular information has not been generalized here. The thing which actually has been done is that an already available generalized principle has been tested through particular application of that generalized principle.
Are all principles ‘abstract general’?
All principles are ‘general’ but all the principles may not be ‘abstract’ also. In fact, there are two types of principles:
i. Abstract generalized principles &;
ii. Material generalized principles.
For example the principle of the right-angle triangle i.e. “x² = y² + z²” is abstract generalized principle. This principle tells us a general relationship between entities which are not essentially material i.e. x, y and z, themselves are not any material quantities but they can represent material quantities. So x, y and z are abstract entities in this case.
Another principle, on the other hand, that states that a particular proportion of Hydrogen (i.e. a material entity), if combined with the particular proportion of Oxygen (i.e. another material entity), would give water (i.e. still another material entity) as a result. This principle also tells us about a general relationship between entities but the entities, in this case are not abstract. The entities are specific i.e. Hydrogen and Oxygen. These specific entities are material in nature. So these types of principles are ‘material generalized principles’.
Components of Science:
Following may be considered to be the major classification of all the components of science:
1. Objective Principles:
Objective principles have already been defined. These principles are verifiable only through laboratory method. Following is the sub-classification of objective principles:
i. Abstract generalized principles.
ii. Material generalized principles.
It should be noted, however that principles may be known as well as un-known. Only the known principles are the component of science. Science does not include un-known things.
2. Objective Tendencies:
For example ‘climate’ which is long-run average of various components of weather for a specific geographical area can be considered as an objective tendency. Objective tendencies cannot be verified. They just can be re-derived. Objective tendencies are used to forecast about the future objective events. However these tendencies do not give 100% surety about the occurrence of the forecasted events.
3. Objective Identifications:
For example earth revolves around the sun. In its orbit, the earth’s face is ’tilted’ with an angle of 23 1/2°. This is ‘particular material’ information and is objective in nature. It means that this information is neither a principle, nor a tendency but is a single piece of information. This information is objective because it is supported by indirect objective evidence. This type of information is considered as ‘objective identification’. This is also considered to be a component of science.
4. 2nd Type Cause Effects (only scientific nature):
And note that all the components of science are objective in nature. It means that any subjective entity cannot be considered to be science. Also note that ‘objective statements’ and ‘objective rules’ are also not the components of science.