, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 1-22

The nature of scientific thought

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Abstract

‘Scientific thought’ is regarded here as both a type of goal-directed behaviour (practice) and its product, and the question of its ‘nature’ posed in terms of that goal and of means appropriate for achieving it, preferably with regard to an existing paradigm (exemplar) such as the ‘Galilean-Newtonian’. ‘Empiricism’, a widely received view of the nature of science, is examined and rejected, as is the general idea that scientific thought has ‘philosophical foundations’. The question of the actual or possible scientific status of ‘the human sciences’ is raised and some methodological guidelines for an answer to it suggested.

This paper is a version of one commissioned for the forthcoming International Handbook of Science Education edited by Ken Tobin and Barry Fraser (Kluwer Academic Publications). Thus it deals in a condensed way with wide-ranging and complex matters that would ordinarily be treated separately and at greater length. (Editor)