That experimentalists select only their 'good data' and eventually accept only one of several discordant experimental results have been central to the claim that physics and other sciences are socially constructed. In this impressive book, Allan Franklin tackles these two problems head on, demonstrating persuasively that physics is at root a rationally constructed science.
Selectivity and Discord addresses the fundamental question of whether there are grounds for belief in experimental results. Specifically, Allan Franklin is concerned with two problems in the use of experimental results in science: selectivity of data or analysis procedures and the resolution of discordant results.
By means of detailed case studies of episodes from the history of modern physics, Franklin shows how these problems can be—and are—solved in the normal practice of science and, therefore, that experimental results may be legitimately used as a basis for scientific knowledge.
No one has done more than Allan Franklin to show how the intricacies of experimental reasoning in physics provide safeguards against being misled by individual experimental results.
Franklin is one of a very small number of people who have both the knowledge needed to understand complicated experiments in physics and the skill needed to explain to a nonprofessional audience how the experiments work. . . . A welcome counterweight to postmodernist interpretations of science.
Accessible to anyone with a college-level education in physics, this lucid and persuasive book collects Franklin's previously published investigations on the epistemology of experiment and is a 'must read' for either students or professionals with an interest in the history and philosophy of science.
All of the cases Franklin considers are presented with a wealth of clear, relevant, and interesting experimental detail.
A valuable addition to the literature on scientific experiments and their role in justifying theoretical hypotheses. I recommend it.
Allan Franklin is professor of physics at the University of Colorado. He has twice been chair of the Forum on the History of Physics of the American Physical Society and has served two terms on the Executive Council of the Philosophy of Science Association. He is the author of eleven books, including Are There Really Neutrinos? An Evidential History; Selectivity and Discord: Two Problems of Experiment; No Easy Answers: Science and the Pursuit of Knowledge; Shifting Standards: Experiments in Particle Physics in the Twentieth Century, and coauthor of Ending the Mendel-Fisher Controversy.