Chapter

Method, Rhetoric, and Newcomb

Albert E. Moyer

in A Scientist's Voice in American Culture

Published by University of California Press

Published in print September 1992 | ISBN: 9780520076891
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520912137 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520076891.003.0001
Method, Rhetoric, and Newcomb

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The words “scientific method” call to mind a set of rules, procedures, and criteria that enable scientists to govern and direct their study of nature. In the United States, during the closing decades of the nineteenth century, Simon Newcomb took a firm public stand on methodological issues. His pronouncements on method were neither isolated initiatives nor momentary diversions in his career, but integral and recurrent components of his life as a practicing scientist and scientific spokesman. This chapter presents a historical analysis of Newcomb's methodological pronouncements. Because such pronouncements are likely conditioned by a scientist's personal and professional circumstances, the study of ideological methodology offers the possibility of illuminating the human and cultural dimensions of science. In Newcomb's case, his professed methodology is interwoven with his personal political, economic, philosophical, religious, and pedagogic convictions, and his perceptions of the institutional and conceptual status of science in late nineteenth-century America. And as with his colleagues Chauncey Wright and Charles Sanders Peirce, his views on method connect to the broader cultural tradition of American pragmatism.

Keywords: Simon Newcomb; historical analysis; methodological pronouncements; ideological methodology; American pragmatism; scientific method

Chapter.  4876 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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