Idealization in Science: a Methodological Reflection

Drawing from the example of Sigmund Koch’s work, this paper examines the notion of scientific objectivity. Understanding “scientific objectivity” as a particular ideal which orients the production of scientific knowledge, I propose that scientific practitioners perform an idealization of their subject matter. This idealization is tacitly embedded within what Koch calls the “analytical pattern” of science. I speculate on the history of this embedding, sketching a route for the development of the notion of “scientific objectivity” from “pre-objective” phenomenal experience to the elaborated skillful activity of the scientific investigator. In the context of this skillful activity, idealization guides the making explicit of the tacitly experienced subject matter. It acts as a guide in the embodying of a set of values which the scientist upholds.

Peet, C. (2001). Idealization in science: a methodological reflection. In J. Morss, N. Stephenson, & H. van Rappard, (Eds.), Theoretical Issues in Psychology, pp. 207-217.

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