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It should be noted that David L. Hull, Karl Popper, and Percy Bridgman have contributed greatly to the existing body of knowledge. Their works have been reviewed by many other scholars, and they are appreciated by members of the scientific community despite the criticism of some of the texts. The purpose of this paper is to reflect on the writings of these three scholars and generate three questions that can be discussed in class.
The main query that the author will strive to address is related to operations and their ontological status. Operationism is a philosophical domain, which has been put forward by Bridgman (1927). He suggested a proposition that the meanings of scientific concepts were synonymous to the multitude of operations by which their content was determined. In particular, the philosopher argued that the experimental procedures of a phenomenon represented such operations (Bridgman, 1927).
Consequently, his idea was concluded to an understanding that the meaning of physical concepts should be determined by the totality of experimental operations. Nevertheless, this approach could not be universally applied to all scientific and theoretical knowledge.
Notably, scholars have repeatedly stressed the importance of discovery operations. However, as a rule, they were discussed in the light of unsuccessful operationism. Such cases were covered in the works by Bridgman (1927) and Popper (1959). The overall difficulty of discovery operations was linked to the way they were perceived. To be more precise, the researchers relied on theories, frameworks, and hypotheses and connected them to reality. However, discovery operations have a different nature. The first instance is empirical in its character, which implies that it explicates certain facets of reality. In their turn, operations are a number of principles that should be utilized to select an empirical statement among a multiplicity of them.
Therefore, the interpretation of operations should go beyond the propositions suggested by Bridgman (1927). The article by Hull (1968) strongly supports this statement. Operational and theoretical justifications can be contraposed. According to Hull (1968), operations should not be combined with the artifacts that the study is seeking. One of the reasons for it lies in the fact that operational justifications should be logically consistent solely.
Moreover, based on the analysis of the three texts, it can be assumed that a research providing theoretical definitions solely cannot be considered strong. This inference is fundamental for the scope of the course and the author’s professional endeavors since it should serve as a construct for the further philosophical reasoning and justification. Theory is a part of a reliable study; therefore, the works that have proved a phenomenon using only theoretical instruments are not rigorous enough (Hull, 1968). Their weakness lies in the fact that such researches cannot provide real-life examples.
Thus, it can be concluded that the three philosophical texts have expanded the existing body of knowledge. Despite the fact that some of them have been subjected to criticism and the scholars have recognized the weaknesses of the claims made, these writings have advanced the comprehension of operationism. The main derivation that can be drawn from the reflection is that operational and theoretical justifications should not be regarded as a single method.
Questions for In-Class Consideration
Based on the discussion and the assumptions made, the three questions for in-class consideration are as follows:
- How can scholars make sure that their operations are scientifically valid and optimum?
- What kind of philosophical tests can be applied to operations?
- How do operations push the advancement of knowledge?
Bridgman, P. W. (1927). The logic of modern physics. New York, NY: MacMillan.
Hull, D. (1968). The operational imperative: Sense and nonsense in operationism. Systematic Zoology, 17(4), 438-457.
Popper, K. (1959). The logic of scientific discovery. New York, NY: Basic Books.