Philosophy of Experiment in Early Modern England: The Case of Bacon, Boyle and Hooke

In: Early Science and Medicine
Peter R. AnsteyUniversity of Sydney

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Serious philosophical reflection on the nature of experiment began in earnest in the seventeenth century. This paper expounds the most influential philosophy of experiment in seventeenth-century England, the Bacon-Boyle-Hooke view of experiment. It is argued that this can only be understood in the context of the new experimental philosophy practised according to the Baconian theory of natural history. The distinctive typology of experiments of this view is discussed, as well as its account of the relation between experiment and theory. This leads into an assessment of other recent discussions of early modern experiment, namely, those of David Gooding, Thomas Kuhn, J.E. Tiles and Peter Dear.

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