PSA 1974 pp 301-312 | Cite as

Metaphorical Models of Mastery: or, How to Learn to Do the Problems at the End of the Chapter of the Physics Textbook

  • Hugh G. Petrie
Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science book series (BSPS, volume 32)


Without question, one of the most important cluster of issues in recent philosophy of science has centered around the attack on the rigid positivist distinction between theory and observation or between a theoretical language and an observational language. Kuhn, Feyerabend, Hanson, Toulmin, and Polanyi are all names closely associated with one version or another of this attack.1 All have argued that observational categories are essentially theory-determined and there is no determinate observational base, or neutral observational language. Thus at least the positivist account of the objectivity of scientific knowledge would seem to be seriously threatened by the thesis of the theory-ladenness of observation. For without an independently accessible observational base against which to test scientific theories, wherein would objectivity consist?


Science Education Science Teacher Science Student Positivist Account Referential Category 
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  1. 3.
    Both Scheffler and one of my co-symposiasts do seem to grant this very assumption. See Scheffler, Ibid., e.g., pp. 40-41 and 64-65. See also Michael Martin, Concepts of Science Education (Scott-Foresman, Glenview, 111., 1972), p. 127.Google Scholar
  2. 9.
    In the following, I am extremely indebted to my student, Felicity Haynes, and my colleague, Andrew Ortony, for having opened my eyes to the crucial importance of metaphor in learning situations where a new scheme of reference is being learned. See Andrew Ortony,’ Why Metaphors are Necessary and Not Just Nice’, Educational Theory 25, Winter 1975, pp. 45-53.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1976

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugh G. Petrie
    • 1
  1. 1.University of IllinoisUSA

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