Skip to main content

Elusive Phenomena, Unwieldy Things

Historical Perspectives on Experimental Control

  • Book
  • Open Access
  • © 2024

You have full access to this open access Book


  • Provides a unique treatment of the historical development of control experiments
  • Analyzes scientists' methodological ideas
  • Exemplifies collaborative long-term history (focused case studies to trace long-term developments)
  • This book is open access, which means that you have free and unlimited access

Part of the book series: Archimedes (ARIM, volume 71)

Buy print copy

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
$34.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Hardcover Book USD 59.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

About this book

This open access book provides a historical treatment of scientific control in experimentation in the longue durée. The introduction distinguishes four related strands in the history of experimental control: the development of practices to stabilize experimental conditions; the career of the comparative design; the unfolding of methodological discussions about control practices and designs; and the history of the term “control”. Each chapter brings these distinctions to bear on specific historical episodes. The focus is on experiments with complex, elusive phenomena such as perception and learning, irregular movements, and unobservable elements. Such experiments bring control issues to the fore because they are difficult to design and stabilize and often controversial. Together, the chapters show that the local context shapes what exactly is controlled, how control can be accomplished, and how controls are justified. They also show that control strategies and methodological ideas often remain stable for a long time and change only gradually. This book, as well as the volume on analysis and synthesis in experimentation by the same editors, contains contributions by an array of experts from multiple disciplines, making it suitable for historians and philosophers of science and students alike.


Table of contents (11 chapters)

Editors and Affiliations

  • Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, Indiana University, Bloomington, USA

    Jutta Schickore, William R. Newman

About the editors

Jutta Schickore is Ruth N. Halls Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at Indiana University. Her research has dealt with philosophical and scientific debates about scientific methods in past and present, particularly debates about (non)replicability, error, and negative results, historical and philosophical aspects of microscopy; and the relation between history and philosophy of science. She held a Sir Henry Wellcome Research Fellowship at the at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science in Cambridge, UK, as well as postdoctoral fellowships at the Dibner Institute for the History of Science and Technology at M.I.T. (Cambridge, Mass.) and the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science (Berlin, Germany). She has been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton) and fellow at the National Humanities Center (Research Triangle Park).

William R. Newman is Distinguished Professor and Ruth N. Halls Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine at Indiana University. Most of Newman’s work in the History of Science has been devoted to alchemy and "chymistry," the art-nature debate, and matter theories, particularly atomism. Newman is also General Editor of the Chymistry of Isaac Newton, an online resource combining digital editions of Newton’s alchemical writings with multimedia replications of Newton’s alchemical experiments ( Newman is on the editorial boards of Archimedes, Early Science and Medicine, and HOPOS.  He has been a Guggenheim fellow, member at the Institute for Advanced Study, and fellow at the National Humanities Center. 

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Elusive Phenomena, Unwieldy Things

  • Book Subtitle: Historical Perspectives on Experimental Control

  • Editors: Jutta Schickore, William R. Newman

  • Series Title: Archimedes

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: History, History (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2024

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-031-52953-5Published: 27 February 2024

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-031-52956-6Published: 27 February 2024

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-031-52954-2Published: 26 February 2024

  • Series ISSN: 1385-0180

  • Series E-ISSN: 2215-0064

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: VIII, 307

  • Number of Illustrations: 19 b/w illustrations, 7 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: History of Science, History of Philosophy, Analytical Chemistry, History of Mathematical Sciences

Publish with us