Is knowledge in the natural sciences discovered or constructed?

[Deutscher Titel: Wird naturwissenschaftliches Wissen entdeckt oder konstruiert? (Text übersetzen: Deutsch)]

James A. Marcum
Instituting Science: Discovery or Construction of Scientific Knowledge?
International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Volume 22, Issue 2 July 2008 , pages 185 – 210

Abstract: Is knowledge in the natural sciences discovered or constructed? For objectivists, scientific knowledge is discovered through investigations into a mind-independent, natural world. For constructivists, such knowledge is produced through negotiations among members of a professional guild. I examine the clash between the two positions and propose that scientific knowledge is the concurrent outcome from investigations into a natural world and from consensus reached through negotiations of a professional guild. Specifically, I introduce the general methodological notion, instituting science, which incorporates both the discovery and the construction processes in the generation of scientific knowledge. To that end, I use a case study from the biomedical sciences to illustrate the notion. I conclude with a discussion of how this methodological notion helps to address the debate between objectivists and constructivists over the generation of scientific knowledge, and of how it compares with others who have also attempted to address the debate.

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