4. Scientific Epistemology
Abstract: Scientific inquiry is only one epistemological approach to knowledge. In order to better understand how scientists in general and physicists in particular come to know things, the author addresses several ways of knowing and contrasts them with other approaches to knowledge. Attention in this chapter is focused on the processes of induction and deduction, observation and experimentation, and the development and testing of hypotheses and theories. This chapter takes a physicist’s practical approach to epistemology and avoids such statements as “the transcendental deduction of the synthetic a priori” more typical of philosophers. Implications for how to teach the processes of science at the high school level are included.