Title

Induction, Social Constructionism, and the Form of the Science Paper

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

1-1-1993

Abstract

Although Baconian induction—the belief that we can infer accurately from the known to the unknown—has been supplanted by social constructionism, the two perspectives are quite similar in their description of how science is done; the principal difference is that Baconian theory is overtly prescriptive, whereas social constructionism is essentially descriptive. The argument that the inductive organization of the science paper misrepresents how science is actually carried out is based on a faulty premise, for the purpose of a science paper is not to provide a narrative account of the laboratory work, but rather to enable the reader to assess the quality of the scientist's logical reconstruction of the laboratory work. The critical factor in determining the fidelity of the paper to the science is not the organization of the paper but the ethical intent of the writer.