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date: 21 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

The authors provide an overview of philosophical discussions about the roles of experiment in science. First, they cover two approaches that took shape under the heading of “new experimentalism” in the 1980s and 1990s. One approach was primarily concerned with questions about entity realism, robustness, and epistemological strategies. The other has focused on exploratory experiments and the dynamic processes of experimental research as such, highlighting its iterative nature and drawing out the ways in which such research is grounded in experimental systems, concepts and operational definitions. Second, the authors look at more recent philosophical work on the epistemology of causal inference, in particular highlighting discussions in the philosophy of the behavioral and social sciences, concerning the extrapolation from laboratory contexts to the world.

Keywords: entity realism, robustness, error, epistemological strategies, exploratory experiments, operational definitions, causal inference, extrapolation

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