Inquiry

An inquiry is any process that has the aim of augmenting knowledge, resolving doubt, or solving a problem. A theory of inquiry is an account of the various types of inquiry and a treatment of the ways that each type of inquiry achieves its aim.

Pixelbay Question mark Word Art
A question mark

Inquiry theories

Deduction

When three terms are so related to one another that the last is wholly contained in the middle and the middle is wholly contained in or excluded from the first, the extremes must admit of perfect syllogism. By 'middle term' I mean that which both is contained in another and contains another in itself, and which is the middle by its position also; and by 'extremes' (a) that which is contained in another, and (b) that in which another is contained. For if A is predicated of all B, and B of all C, A must necessarily be predicated of all C. ... I call this kind of figure the First. (Aristotle, Prior Analytics, 1.4)

Induction

Inductive reasoning consists in establishing a relation between one extreme term and the middle term by means of the other extreme; for example, if B is the middle term of A and C, in proving by means of C that A applies to B; for this is how we effect inductions. (Aristotle, Prior Analytics, 2.23)

Abduction

The locus classicus for the study of abductive reasoning is found in Aristotle's Prior Analytics, Book 2, Chapt. 25. It begins this way:

We have Reduction (απαγωγη, abduction):

  1. When it is obvious that the first term applies to the middle, but that the middle applies to the last term is not obvious, yet is nevertheless more probable or not less probable than the conclusion;
  2. Or if there are not many intermediate terms between the last and the middle;

For in all such cases the effect is to bring us nearer to knowledge.

By way of explanation, Aristotle supplies two very instructive examples, one for each of the two varieties of abductive inference steps that he has just described in the abstract:

  1. For example, let A stand for "that which can be taught", B for "knowledge", and C for "morality". Then that knowledge can be taught is evident; but whether virtue is knowledge is not clear. Then if BC is not less probable or is more probable than AC, we have reduction; for we are nearer to knowledge for having introduced an additional term, whereas before we had no knowledge that AC is true.
  2. Or again we have reduction if there are not many intermediate terms between B and C; for in this case too we are brought nearer to knowledge. For example, suppose that D is "to square", E "rectilinear figure", and F "circle". Assuming that between E and F there is only one intermediate term — that the circle becomes equal to a rectilinear figure by means of lunules — we should approximate to knowledge. (Aristotle, "Prior Analytics", 2.25, with minor alterations)

Aristotle's latter variety of abductive reasoning, though it will take some explaining in the sequel, is well worth our contemplation, since it hints already at streams of inquiry that course well beyond the syllogistic source from which they spring, and into regions that Peirce will explore more broadly and deeply.

Inquiry in the pragmatic paradigm

In the pragmatic philosophies of Charles Sanders Peirce, William James, John Dewey, and others, inquiry is closely associated with the normative science of logic. In its inception, the pragmatic model or theory of inquiry was extracted by Peirce from its raw materials in classical logic, with a little bit of help from Kant, and refined in parallel with the early development of symbolic logic by Boole, De Morgan, and Peirce himself to address problems about the nature and conduct of scientific reasoning. Borrowing a brace of concepts from Aristotle, Peirce examined three fundamental modes of reasoning that play a role in inquiry, commonly known as abductive, deductive, and inductive inference.

In rough terms, abduction is what we use to generate a likely hypothesis or an initial diagnosis in response to a phenomenon of interest or a problem of concern, while deduction is used to clarify, to derive, and to explicate the relevant consequences of the selected hypothesis, and induction is used to test the sum of the predictions against the sum of the data. It needs to be observed that the classical and pragmatic treatments of the types of reasoning, dividing the generic territory of inference as they do into three special parts, arrive at a different characterization of the environs of reason than do those accounts that count only two.

These three processes typically operate in a cyclic fashion, systematically operating to reduce the uncertainties and the difficulties that initiated the inquiry in question, and in this way, to the extent that inquiry is successful, leading to an increase in knowledge or in skills.

In the pragmatic way of thinking everything has a purpose, and the purpose of each thing is the first thing we should try to note about it.[1] The purpose of inquiry is to reduce doubt and lead to a state of belief, which a person in that state will usually call knowledge or certainty. As they contribute to the end of inquiry, we should appreciate that the three kinds of inference describe a cycle that can be understood only as a whole, and none of the three makes complete sense in isolation from the others. For instance, the purpose of abduction is to generate guesses of a kind that deduction can explicate and that induction can evaluate. This places a mild but meaningful constraint on the production of hypotheses, since it is not just any wild guess at explanation that submits itself to reason and bows out when defeated in a match with reality. In a similar fashion, each of the other types of inference realizes its purpose only in accord with its proper role in the whole cycle of inquiry. No matter how much it may be necessary to study these processes in abstraction from each other, the integrity of inquiry places strong limitations on the effective modularity of its principal components.

In Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, John Dewey defined inquiry as "the controlled or directed transformation of an indeterminate situation into one that is so determinate in its constituent distinctions and relations as to convert the elements of the original situation into a unified whole"[2] Dewey and Peirce's conception of inquiry extended beyond a system of thinking and incorporated the social nature of inquiry. These ideas are summarize in the notion Community of inquiry.[3][4][5]

Art and science of inquiry

For our present purposes, the first feature to note in distinguishing the three principal modes of reasoning from each other is whether each of them is exact or approximate in character. In this light, deduction is the only one of the three types of reasoning that can be made exact, in essence, always deriving true conclusions from true premises, while abduction and induction are unavoidably approximate in their modes of operation, involving elements of fallible judgment in practice and inescapable error in their application.

The reason for this is that deduction, in the ideal limit, can be rendered a purely internal process of the reasoning agent, while the other two modes of reasoning essentially demand a constant interaction with the outside world, a source of phenomena and problems that will no doubt continue to exceed the capacities of any finite resource, human or machine, to master. Situated in this larger reality, approximations can be judged appropriate only in relation to their context of use and can be judged fitting only with regard to a purpose in view.

A parallel distinction that is often made in this connection is to call deduction a demonstrative form of inference, while abduction and induction are classed as non-demonstrative forms of reasoning. Strictly speaking, the latter two modes of reasoning are not properly called inferences at all. They are more like controlled associations of words or ideas that just happen to be successful often enough to be preserved as useful heuristic strategies in the repertoire of the agent. But non-demonstrative ways of thinking are inherently subject to error, and must be constantly checked out and corrected as needed in practice.

In classical terminology, forms of judgment that require attention to the context and the purpose of the judgment are said to involve an element of "art", in a sense that is judged to distinguish them from "science", and in their renderings as expressive judgments to implicate arbiters in styles of rhetoric, as contrasted with logic.

In a figurative sense, this means that only deductive logic can be reduced to an exact theoretical science, while the practice of any empirical science will always remain to some degree an art.

Zeroth order inquiry

Many aspects of inquiry can be recognized and usefully studied in very basic logical settings, even simpler than the level of syllogism, for example, in the realm of reasoning that is variously known as Boolean algebra, propositional calculus, sentential calculus, or zeroth-order logic. By way of approaching the learning curve on the gentlest availing slope, we may well begin at the level of zeroth-order inquiry, in effect, taking the syllogistic approach to inquiry only so far as the propositional or sentential aspects of the associated reasoning processes are concerned. One of the bonuses of doing this in the context of Peirce's logical work is that it provides us with doubly instructive exercises in the use of his logical graphs, taken at the level of his so-called "alpha graphs".

In the case of propositional calculus or sentential logic, deduction comes down to applications of the transitive law for conditional implications and the approximate forms of inference hang on the properties that derive from these. In describing the various types of inference I will employ a few old "terms of art" from classical logic that are still of use in treating these kinds of simple problems in reasoning.

Deduction takes a Case, the minor premise
and combines it with a Rule, the major premise
to arrive at a Fact, the demonstrative conclusion
Induction takes a Case of the form
and matches it with a Fact of the form
to infer a Rule of the form
Abduction takes a Fact of the form
and matches it with a Rule of the form
to infer a Case of the form

For ease of reference, Figure 1 and the Legend beneath it summarize the classical terminology for the three types of inference and the relationships among them.

o-------------------------------------------------o
|                                                 |
|                   Z                             |
|                   o                             |
|                   |\                            |
|                   | \                           |
|                   |  \                          |
|                   |   \                         |
|                   |    \                        |
|                   |     \   R U L E             |
|                   |      \                      |
|                   |       \                     |
|               F   |        \                    |
|                   |         \                   |
|               A   |          \                  |
|                   |           o Y               |
|               C   |          /                  |
|                   |         /                   |
|               T   |        /                    |
|                   |       /                     |
|                   |      /                      |
|                   |     /   C A S E             |
|                   |    /                        |
|                   |   /                         |
|                   |  /                          |
|                   | /                           |
|                   |/                            |
|                   o                             |
|                   X                             |
|                                                 |
| Deduction takes a Case of the form X → Y,       |
| matches it with a Rule of the form Y → Z,       |
| then adverts to a Fact of the form X → Z.       |
|                                                 |
| Induction takes a Case of the form X → Y,       |
| matches it with a Fact of the form X → Z,       |
| then adverts to a Rule of the form Y → Z.       |
|                                                 |
| Abduction takes a Fact of the form X → Z,       |
| matches it with a Rule of the form Y → Z,       |
| then adverts to a Case of the form X → Y.       |
|                                                 |
| Even more succinctly:                           |
|                                                 |
|           Abduction Deduction Induction         |
|                                                 |
| Premise:     Fact Case Case                     |
| Premise:     Rule Rule Fact                     |
| Outcome:     Case Fact Rule                     |
|                                                 |
o-------------------------------------------------o
Figure 1.  Elementary Structure and Terminology

In its original usage a statement of Fact has to do with a deed done or a record made, that is, a type of event that is openly observable and not riddled with speculation as to its very occurrence. In contrast, a statement of Case may refer to a hidden or a hypothetical cause, that is, a type of event that is not immediately observable to all concerned. Obviously, the distinction is a rough one and the question of which mode applies can depend on the points of view that different observers adopt over time. Finally, a statement of a Rule is called that because it states a regularity or a regulation that governs a whole class of situations, and not because of its syntactic form. So far in this discussion, all three types of constraint are expressed in the form of conditional propositions, but this is not a fixed requirement. In practice, these modes of statement are distinguished by the roles that they play within an argument, not by their style of expression. When the time comes to branch out from the syllogistic framework, we will find that propositional constraints can be discovered and represented in arbitrary syntactic forms.

Example of inquiry

Examples of inquiry, that illustrate the full cycle of its abductive, deductive, and inductive phases, and yet are both concrete and simple enough to be suitable for a first (or zeroth) exposition, are somewhat rare in Peirce's writings, and so let us draw one from the work of fellow pragmatician John Dewey, analyzing it according to the model of zeroth-order inquiry that we developed above.

A man is walking on a warm day. The sky was clear the last time he observed it; but presently he notes, while occupied primarily with other things, that the air is cooler. It occurs to him that it is probably going to rain; looking up, he sees a dark cloud between him and the sun, and he then quickens his steps. What, if anything, in such a situation can be called thought? Neither the act of walking nor the noting of the cold is a thought. Walking is one direction of activity; looking and noting are other modes of activity. The likelihood that it will rain is, however, something suggested. The pedestrian feels the cold; he thinks of clouds and a coming shower. (John Dewey, How We Think, 1910, pp. 6-7).

Once over quickly

Let's first give Dewey's example of inquiry in everyday life the quick once over, hitting just the high points of its analysis into Peirce's three kinds of reasoning.

Abductive phase

In Dewey's "Rainy Day" or "Sign of Rain" story, we find our peripatetic hero presented with a surprising Fact:

  • Fact: C → A, In the Current situation the Air is cool.

Responding to an intellectual reflex of puzzlement about the situation, his resource of common knowledge about the world is impelled to seize on an approximate Rule:

  • Rule: B → A, Just Before it rains, the Air is cool.

This Rule can be recognized as having a potential relevance to the situation because it matches the surprising Fact, C → A, in its consequential feature A.

All of this suggests that the present Case may be one in which it is just about to rain:

  • Case: C → B, The Current situation is just Before it rains.

The whole mental performance, however automatic and semi-conscious it may be, that leads up from a problematic Fact and a previously settled knowledge base of Rules to the plausible suggestion of a Case description, is what we are calling an abductive inference.

Deductive phase

The next phase of inquiry uses deductive inference to expand the implied consequences of the abductive hypothesis, with the aim of testing its truth. For this purpose, the inquirer needs to think of other things that would follow from the consequence of his precipitate explanation. Thus, he now reflects on the Case just assumed:

  • Case: C → B, The Current situation is just Before it rains.

He looks up to scan the sky, perhaps in a random search for further information, but since the sky is a logical place to look for details of an imminent rainstorm, symbolized in our story by the letter B, we may safely suppose that our reasoner has already detached the consequence of the abduced Case, C → B, and has begun to expand on its further implications. So let us imagine that our up-looker has a more deliberate purpose in mind, and that his search for additional data is driven by the new-found, determinate Rule:

  • Rule: B → D, Just Before it rains, Dark clouds appear.

Contemplating the assumed Case in combination with this new Rule leads him by an immediate deduction to predict an additional Fact:

  • Fact: C → D, In the Current situation Dark clouds appear.

The reconstructed picture of reasoning assembled in this second phase of inquiry is true to the pattern of deductive inference.

Inductive phase

Whatever the case, our subject observes a Dark cloud, just as he would expect on the basis of the new hypothesis. The explanation of imminent rain removes the discrepancy between observations and expectations and thereby reduces the shock of surprise that made this process of inquiry necessary.

Looking more closely

Seeding hypotheses

Figure 4 gives a graphical illustration of Dewey's example of inquiry, isolating for the purposes of the present analysis the first two steps in the more extended proceedings that go to make up the whole inquiry.

o-----------------------------------------------------------o
|                                                           |
|     A                                               D     |
|      o                                             o      |
|       \ *                                       * /       |
|        \  *                                   *  /        |
|         \   *                               *   /         |
|          \    *                           *    /          |
|           \     *                       *     /           |
|            \   R u l e             R u l e   /            |
|             \       *               *       /             |
|              \        *           *        /              |
|               \         *       *         /               |
|                \          * B *          /                |
|              F a c t        o        F a c t              |
|                  \          *          /                  |
|                   \         *         /                   |
|                    \        *        /                    |
|                     \       *       /                     |
|                      \   C a s e   /                      |
|                       \     *     /                       |
|                        \    *    /                        |
|                         \   *   /                         |
|                          \  *  /                          |
|                           \ * /                           |
|                            \*/                            |
|                             o                             |
|                             C                             |
|                                                           |
| A  =  the Air is cool                                     |
| B  =  just Before it rains                                |
| C  =  the Current situation                               |
| D  =  a Dark cloud appears                                |
|                                                           |
| A is a major term                                         |
| B is a middle term                                        |
| C is a minor term                                         |
| D is a major term, associated with A                      |
|                                                           |
o-----------------------------------------------------------o
Figure 4.  Dewey's 'Rainy Day' Inquiry

In this analysis of the first steps of Inquiry, we have a complex or a mixed form of inference that can be seen as taking place in two steps:

  • The first step is an Abduction that abstracts a Case from the consideration of a Fact and a Rule.
Fact: C → A, In the Current situation the Air is cool.
Rule: B → A, Just Before it rains, the Air is cool.
Case: C → B, The Current situation is just Before it rains.
  • The final step is a Deduction that admits this Case to another Rule and so arrives at a novel Fact.
Case: C → B, The Current situation is just Before it rains.
Rule: B → D, Just Before it rains, a Dark cloud will appear.
Fact: C → D, In the Current situation, a Dark cloud will appear.

This is nowhere near a complete analysis of the Rainy Day inquiry, even insofar as it might be carried out within the constraints of the syllogistic framework, and it covers only the first two steps of the relevant inquiry process, but maybe it will do for a start.

One other thing needs to be noticed here, the formal duality between this expansion phase of inquiry and the argument from analogy. This can be seen most clearly in the propositional lattice diagrams shown in Figures 3 and 4, where analogy exhibits a rough "A" shape and the first two steps of inquiry exhibit a rough "V" shape, respectively. Since we find ourselves repeatedly referring to this expansion phase of inquiry as a unit, let's give it a name that suggests its duality with analogy—"catalogy" will do for the moment. This usage is apt enough if one thinks of a catalogue entry for an item as a text that lists its salient features. Notice that analogy has to do with the examples of a given quality, while catalogy has to do with the qualities of a given example. Peirce noted similar forms of duality in many of his early writings, leading to the consummate treatment in his 1867 paper "On a New List of Categories" (CP 1.545-559, W 2, 49-59).

Weeding hypotheses

In order to comprehend the bearing of inductive reasoning on the closing phases of inquiry there are a couple of observations that we need to make:

  • First, we need to recognize that smaller inquiries are typically woven into larger inquiries, whether we view the whole pattern of inquiry as carried on by a single agent or by a complex community.
  • Further, we need to consider the different ways in which the particular instances of inquiry can be related to ongoing inquiries at larger scales. Three modes of inductive interaction between the micro-inquiries and the macro-inquiries that are salient here can be described under the headings of the "Learning", the "Transfer", and the "Testing" of rules.

Analogy of experience

Throughout inquiry the reasoner makes use of rules that have to be transported across intervals of experience, from the masses of experience where they are learned to the moments of experience where they are applied. Inductive reasoning is involved in the learning and the transfer of these rules, both in accumulating a knowledge base and in carrying it through the times between acquisition and application.

  • Learning. The principal way that induction contributes to an ongoing inquiry is through the learning of rules, that is, by creating each of the rules that goes into the knowledge base, or ever gets used along the way.
  • Transfer. The continuing way that induction contributes to an ongoing inquiry is through the exploit of analogy, a two-step combination of induction and deduction that serves to transfer rules from one context to another.
  • Testing. Finally, every inquiry that makes use of a knowledge base constitutes a "field test" of its accumulated contents. If the knowledge base fails to serve any live inquiry in a satisfactory manner, then there is a prima facie reason to reconsider and possibly to amend some of its rules.

Let's now consider how these principles of learning, transfer, and testing apply to John Dewey's "Sign of Rain" example.

Rules in a knowledge base, as far as their effective content goes, can be obtained by any mode of inference.

For example, a rule like:

  • Rule: B → A, Just Before it rains, the Air is cool,

is usually induced from a consideration of many past events, in a manner that can be rationally reconstructed as follows:

  • Case: C → B, In Certain events, it is just Before it rains,
  • Fact: C → A, In Certain events, the Air is cool,
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Rule: B → A, Just Before it rains, the Air is cool.

However, the very same proposition could also be abduced as an explanation of a singular occurrence or deduced as a conclusion of a presumptive theory.

What is it that gives a distinctively inductive character to the acquisition of a knowledge base? It is evidently the "analogy of experience" that underlies its useful application. Whenever we find ourselves prefacing an argument with the phrase "If past experience is any guide..." then we can be sure that this principle has come into play. We are invoking an analogy between past experience, considered as a totality, and present experience, considered as a point of application. What we mean in practice is this: "If past experience is a fair sample of possible experience, then the knowledge gained in it applies to present experience". This is the mechanism that allows a knowledge base to be carried across gulfs of experience that are indifferent to the effective contents of its rules.

Here are the details of how this notion of transfer works out in the case of the "Sign of Rain" example:

Let K(pres) be a portion of the reasoner's knowledge base that is logically equivalent to the conjunction of two rules, as follows:

  • K(pres) = (B → A) and (B → D).

K(pres) is the present knowledge base, expressed in the form of a logical constraint on the present universe of discourse.

It is convenient to have the option of expressing all logical statements in terms of their logical models, that is, in terms of the primitive circumstances or the elements of experience over which they hold true.

  • Let E(past) be the chosen set of experiences, or the circumstances that we have in mind when we refer to "past experience".
  • Let E(poss) be the collective set of experiences, or the projective total of possible circumstances.
  • Let E(pres) be the present experience, or the circumstances that are present to the reasoner at the current moment.

If we think of the knowledge base K(pres) as referring to the "regime of experience" over which it is valid, then all of these sets of models can be compared by the simple relations of set inclusion or logical implication.

Figure 5 schematizes this way of viewing the "analogy of experience".

o-----------------------------------------------------------o
|                                                           |
|                          K(pres)                          |
|                             o                             |
|                            /|\                            |
|                           / | \                           |
|                          /  |  \                          |
|                         /   |   \                         |
|                        /  Rule   \                        |
|                       /     |     \                       |
|                      /      |      \                      |
|                     /       |       \                     |
|                    /     E(poss)     \                    |
|              Fact /         o         \ Fact              |
|                  /        *   *        \                  |
|                 /       *       *       \                 |
|                /      *           *      \                |
|               /     *               *     \               |
|              /    *                   *    \              |
|             /   *  Case           Case  *   \             |
|            /  *                           *  \            |
|           / *                               * \           |
|          /*                                   *\          |
|         o<<<---------------<<<---------------<<<o         |
|      E(past)        Analogy Morphism         E(pres)      |
|    More Known                              Less Known     |
|                                                           |
o-----------------------------------------------------------o
Figure 5.  Analogy of Experience

In these terms, the "analogy of experience" proceeds by inducing a Rule about the validity of a current knowledge base and then deducing a Fact, its applicability to a current experience, as in the following sequence:

Inductive Phase:

  • Given Case: E(past) → E(poss), Chosen events fairly sample Collective events.
  • Given Fact: E(past) → K(pres), Chosen events support the Knowledge regime.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Induce Rule: E(poss) → K(pres), Collective events support the Knowledge regime.

Deductive Phase:

  • Given Case: E(pres) → E(poss), Current events fairly sample Collective events.
  • Given Rule: E(poss) → K(pres), Collective events support the Knowledge regime.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
  • Deduce Fact: E(pres) → K(pres), Current events support the Knowledge regime.

If the observer looks up and does not see dark clouds, or if he runs for shelter but it does not rain, then there is fresh occasion to question the utility or the validity of his knowledge base. But we must leave our foulweather friend for now and defer the logical analysis of this testing phase to another occasion.

See also

Citations

  1. ^ Rescher, N. (2012). Pragmatism: The Restoration of its Scientific Roots. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press.
  2. ^ Dewey, John (1938). Logic: The Theory of Inquiry. New York:NY: D.C. Heath & Co.<http://www2.sunysuffolk.edu/osullis/spring07/courses/page0/history/documents_files/Dewey_pattern%20of%20inquiry.pdf>
  3. ^ Wikisource:The Fixation of Belief
  4. ^ Seixas, Peter. "The Community of Inquiry as a Basis for Knowledge and Learning: The Case of History". Sage. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
  5. ^ Shields, Patricia. "The Community of Inquiry". Sage. Retrieved 4 June 2012.

Bibliography

  • Angluin, Dana (1989), "Learning with Hints", pp. 167–181 in David Haussler and Leonard Pitt (eds.), Proceedings of the 1988 Workshop on Computational Learning Theory, MIT, 3–5 August 1988, Morgan Kaufmann, San Mateo, CA, 1989.
  • Aristotle, "Prior Analytics", Hugh Tredennick (trans.), pp. 181–531 in Aristotle, Volume 1, Loeb Classical Library, William Heinemann, London, UK, 1938.
  • Awbrey, Jon, and Awbrey, Susan (1995), "Interpretation as Action : The Risk of Inquiry", Inquiry : Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines 15, 40–52. Eprint.
  • Delaney, C.F. (1993), Science, Knowledge, and Mind: A Study in the Philosophy of C.S. Peirce, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN.
  • Dewey, John (1910), How We Think, D.C. Heath, Lexington, MA, 1910. Reprinted, Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1991.
  • Dewey, John (1938), Logic: The Theory of Inquiry, Henry Holt and Company, New York, NY, 1938. Reprinted as pp. 1–527 in John Dewey, The Later Works, 1925–1953, Volume 12: 1938, Jo Ann Boydston (ed.), Kathleen Poulos (text. ed.), Ernest Nagel (intro.), Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale and Edwardsville, IL, 1986.
  • Haack, Susan (1993), Evidence and Inquiry: Towards Reconstruction in Epistemology, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford, UK.
  • Hanson, Norwood Russell (1958), Patterns of Discovery, An Inquiry into the Conceptual Foundations of Science, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.
  • Hendricks, Vincent F. (2005), Thought 2 Talk: A Crash Course in Reflection and Expression, Automatic Press / VIP, New York, NY. ISBN 87-991013-7-8
  • Maxwell, Nicholas (2007) From Knowledge to Wisdom, Pentire Press, London.
  • Maxwell, Nicholas (2017), In Praise of Natural Philosophy: A Revolution for Thought and Life, McGill-Queen’s University Press, Montreal.
  • Misak, Cheryl J. (1991), Truth and the End of Inquiry, A Peircean Account of Truth, Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK.
  • Peirce, C.S., (1931–1935, 1958), Collected Papers of Charles Sanders Peirce, vols. 1–6, Charles Hartshorne and Paul Weiss (eds.), vols. 7–8, Arthur W. Burks (ed.), Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. Cited as CP volume.paragraph.
  • Stalnaker, Robert C. (1984), Inquiry, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

External links

  • Media related to Inquiry at Wikimedia Commons
Bengal famine of 1943

The Bengal famine of 1943 (Bengali: pañcāśēra manvantara) was a major famine of the Bengal province in British India during World War II. An estimated 2.1–3 million, out of a population of 60.3 million, died of starvation, or of malaria and other diseases aggravated by malnutrition, population displacement, unsanitary conditions and lack of health care. Millions were impoverished as the crisis overwhelmed large segments of the economy and social fabric. Historians have frequently characterised the famine as "man-made", due to the fact that the Bengal famine was a "war famine" that occurred in the context of World War II. A minority view holds that the famine arose from natural causes despite the fact that there were major natural disasters during the famine.Bengal's economy was predominantly agrarian. In the years before the famine, between half and three-quarters of the rural poor were living in a "semi-starved condition". Stagnant agricultural productivity and a stable land base were inadequate for the rapidly increasing population, resulting in both a long-term decline in the per capita availability of rice and growing numbers of land-poor or landless laborers. A high proportion also laboured beneath a chronic and spiraling cycle of debt that ended in debt bondage and the loss of their landholdings due to land grabbing. More proximate causes of the crisis involved large-scale natural disasters in southwestern Bengal and the consequences of the war. Military buildup and financing sparked war-time inflation, while land was appropriated from thousands of Bengalis. Following the Japanese occupation of Burma (modern Myanmar) rice imports were lost, then much of Bengal's market supplies and transport systems were disrupted by British "denial policies" for rice and boats (a "scorched earth" response to the occupation). The British government also pursued prioritised distribution of vital supplies to the military, civil servants and other "priority classes". These factors were compounded by restricted access to grain: domestic sources were constrained by emergency inter-provincial trade barriers, while access to international sources was largely denied by Churchill's War Cabinet, arguably due to a wartime shortage of shipping. The relative impact of each of these contributing factors to the death toll and economic devastation is an ongoing matter of controversy.

The provincial government's policy failures began with denial that a famine existed. Humanitarian aid was ineffective through the worst months of the food crisis, and the government never formally declared a state of famine. It first attempted to influence the price of rice paddy (unmilled rice) through price controls. These measures created a black market and encouraged sellers to withhold stocks. Hyperinflation resulted from speculation and hoarding after controls were abandoned. Aid increased significantly when the Indian Army took control of aid in October 1943, but effective relief arrived only after a record rice harvest that December. Deaths from starvation began to decline, but over half the famine-related deaths occurred in 1944, after the food security crisis had abated, as a result of disease.

Bloody Sunday (1972)

Bloody Sunday, or the Bogside Massacre, was an incident on 30 January 1972 in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland, when British soldiers shot 28 unarmed civilians during a protest march against internment. Fourteen people died: thirteen were killed outright, while the death of another man four months later was attributed to his injuries. Many of the victims were shot while fleeing from the soldiers and some were shot while trying to help the wounded. Other protesters were injured by rubber bullets or batons, and two were run down by army vehicles. All of those shot were Catholics. The march had been organised by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA). The soldiers were from the 1st Battalion, Parachute Regiment ("1 Para"). This battalion was involved in two other controversial shootings: the Ballymurphy massacre several months before, and the killing of Protestant civilians in the Shankill several months later.

Two investigations were held by the British government. The Widgery Tribunal, held in the immediate aftermath, largely cleared the soldiers and British authorities of blame. It described the soldiers' shooting as "bordering on the reckless", but accepted their claims that they shot at gunmen and bomb-throwers. The report was widely criticised as a "whitewash". The Saville Inquiry, chaired by Lord Saville of Newdigate, was established in 1998 to reinvestigate the incident. Following a 12-year inquiry, Saville's report was made public in 2010 and concluded that the killings were both "unjustified" and "unjustifiable". It found that all of those shot were unarmed, that none were posing a serious threat, that no bombs were thrown, and that soldiers "knowingly put forward false accounts" to justify their firing. The soldiers denied shooting the named victims, but also denied shooting anyone by mistake. On its publication, British prime minister David Cameron made a formal apology on behalf of the United Kingdom. Following this, police began a murder investigation into the killings.

Bloody Sunday was one of the most significant events of the Troubles because a large number of civilians were killed, by forces of the state, in full view of the public and the press. It was the highest number of people killed in a single shooting incident during the conflict. Bloody Sunday fueled Catholic and Irish nationalist hostility towards the British Army and worsened the conflict. Support for the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) rose and there was a surge of recruitment into the organisation, especially locally.

Case study

In the social sciences and life sciences, a case study is a research method involving an up-close, in-depth, and detailed examination of a subject of study (the case), as well as its related contextual conditions.

Case studies can be produced by following a formal research method. These case studies are likely to appear in formal research venues, as journals and professional conferences, rather than popular works. The resulting body of 'case study research' has long had a prominent place in many disciplines and professions, ranging from psychology, anthropology, sociology, and political science to education, clinical science, social work, and administrative science.In doing case study research, the "case" being studied may be an individual, organization, event, or action, existing in a specific time and place. For instance, clinical science has produced both well-known case studies of individuals and also case studies of clinical practices. However, when "case" is used in an abstract sense, as in a claim, a proposition, or an argument, such a case can be the subject of many research methods, not just case study research.

Another suggestion is that case study should be defined as a research strategy, an empirical inquiry that investigates a phenomenon within its real-life context. Case study research can mean single and multiple case studies, can include quantitative evidence, relies on multiple sources of evidence, and benefits from the prior development of theoretical propositions. Case studies should not be confused with qualitative research and they can be based on any mix of quantitative and qualitative evidence. Single-subject research provides the statistical framework for making inferences from quantitative case-study data.Case studies may involve both qualitative and quantitative research methods.

Center for Inquiry

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational organization. Its primary mission is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI has headquarters in the United States and a number of international branches.

Center for Inquiry focuses on two primary subject areas:

Investigation of Paranormal and Fringe Science Claims through the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

Religion, Ethics, and Society through the Council for Secular HumanismCFI is also active in promoting a scientific approach to medicine and health. The organization has been described as a think tank and as a non-governmental organization.In January 2016, the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science announced that it was merging with the Center for Inquiry, with Robyn Blumner as the CEO of the combined organizations.

Committee for Skeptical Inquiry

The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), formerly known as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), is a program within the transnational American non-profit educational organization Center for Inquiry (CFI), which seeks to "promote scientific inquiry, critical investigation, and the use of reason in examining controversial and extraordinary claims." Paul Kurtz proposed the establishment of CSICOP in 1976 as an independent non-profit organization (before merging with CFI as one of its programs in 2015), to counter what he regarded as an uncritical acceptance of, and support for, paranormal claims by both the media and society in general. Its philosophical position is one of scientific skepticism. CSI's fellows have included notable scientists, Nobel laureates, philosophers, psychologists, educators and authors. It is headquartered in Amherst, New York.

Disappearance of Madeleine McCann

Madeleine Beth McCann (born 12 May 2003) disappeared on the evening of 3 May 2007 from her bed in a holiday apartment in Praia da Luz, a resort in the Algarve region of Portugal, sparking what one newspaper called "the most heavily reported missing-person case in modern history". Her whereabouts remain unknown.Madeleine was on holiday from the UK with her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann; her two-year-old twin siblings; and a group of family friends and their children. She and the twins had been left asleep at 20:30 in the ground-floor apartment, while the McCanns and friends dined in a restaurant 55 metres (180 ft) away. The parents checked on the children throughout the evening, until Madeleine's mother discovered she was missing at 22:00. Over the following weeks, particularly after misinterpreting a British DNA analysis, the Portuguese police came to believe that Madeleine had died in an accident in the apartment and that her parents had covered it up. The McCanns were given arguido (suspect) status in September 2007, which was lifted when Portugal's attorney general archived the case in July 2008 because of a lack of evidence.The parents continued the investigation using private detectives until Scotland Yard opened its own inquiry, Operation Grange, in 2011. The senior investigating officer announced that he was treating the disappearance as "a criminal act by a stranger", most likely a planned abduction or burglary gone wrong. In 2013, Scotland Yard released e-fit images of men they wanted to trace, including one of a man seen carrying a child toward the beach that night. Shortly after this, the Portuguese police reopened their inquiry. Operation Grange was scaled back in 2015, but the remaining detectives continued to pursue a small number of inquiries described in April 2017 as significant.The disappearance attracted sustained international interest and saturation coverage in the UK reminiscent of the death of Diana in 1997. The McCanns were subjected to intense scrutiny and baseless allegations of involvement in their daughter's death, particularly in the tabloid press and on Twitter. In 2008 they and their travelling companions received damages and apologies from Express Newspapers, and in 2011 the McCanns testified before the Leveson Inquiry into British press misconduct, lending support to those arguing for tighter press regulation.

Discipline (academia)

An academic discipline or academic field, also known as a field of study, field of inquiry, research field and branch of knowledge, is a subdivision of knowledge that is taught and researched at the college or university level. Disciplines are defined (in part), and recognized by the academic journals in which research is published, and the learned societies and academic departments or faculties to which their practitioners belong.

It includes scientific disciplines.

It incorporates expertise, people, projects, communities, challenges, studies, inquiry, and research areas that are strongly associated with a given scholastic subject area or college department. For example, the branches of science are commonly referred to as the scientific disciplines, e.g. physics, chemistry, and biology.

Individuals associated with academic disciplines are commonly referred to as experts or specialists. Others, who may have studied liberal arts or systems theory rather than concentrating in a specific academic discipline, are classified as generalists.

While academic disciplines in and of themselves are more or less focused practices, scholarly approaches such as multidisciplinarity/interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, and cross-disciplinarity integrate aspects from multiple academic disciplines, therefore addressing any problems that may arise from narrow concentration within specialized fields of study. For example, professionals may encounter trouble communicating across academic disciplines because of differences in language or specified concepts.

Some researchers believe that academic disciplines may, in the future, be replaced by what is known as Mode 2 or "post-academic science", which involves the acquisition of cross-disciplinary knowledge through collaboration of specialists from various academic disciplines.

Federal Highway Administration

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is a division of the United States Department of Transportation that specializes in highway transportation. The agency's major activities are grouped into two programs, the Federal-aid Highway Program and the Federal Lands Highway Program. Its role had previously been performed by the Office of Road Inquiry, Office of Public Roads and the Bureau of Public Roads.

Harold Shipman

Harold Frederick Shipman (14 January 1946 – 13 January 2004) was an English general practitioner and one of the most prolific serial killers in history. On 31 January 2000, a jury found Shipman guilty of the murder of 215 patients under his care. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with the recommendation that he never be released.The Shipman Inquiry, a two-year-long investigation of all deaths certified by Shipman, which was chaired by Dame Janet Smith, examined Shipman's crimes. The inquiry identified 218 victims and estimated his total victim count at 250, about 80% of whom were elderly women. His youngest confirmed victim was a 41-year-old man, although "significant suspicion" arose that he had killed patients as young as four.Much of Britain's legal structure concerning health care and medicine was reviewed and modified as a result of Shipman's crimes. He is the only British doctor to have been found guilty of murdering his patients, although other doctors have been acquitted of similar crimes or convicted on lesser charges.Shipman died on 13 January 2004, one day prior to his 58th birthday, by hanging himself in his cell at Wakefield Prison.

Hillsborough disaster

The Hillsborough disaster was a fatal crush of people during an FA Cup semi-final football match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, England, on 15 April 1989. With 96 fatalities and 766 injuries, it remains the worst disaster in British sporting history. The crush occurred in the two standing-only central pens in the Leppings Lane stand, allocated to Liverpool supporters. Shortly before kick-off, in an attempt to ease overcrowding outside the entrance turnstiles, the police match commander, chief superintendent David Duckenfield, ordered exit gate C to be opened, leading to an influx of even more supporters to the already overcrowded central pens.In the days and weeks following the disaster, police fed false stories to the press suggesting that hooliganism and drunkenness by Liverpool supporters were the root causes of the disaster. Blaming of Liverpool fans persisted even after the Taylor Report of 1990, which found that the main cause of the disaster was a failure of control by South Yorkshire Police (SYP). Following the Taylor report, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) ruled there was no evidence to justify prosecution of any individuals or institutions. The disaster also led to a number of safety improvements in the largest English football grounds, notably the elimination of fenced standing terraces in favour of all-seater stadiums in the top two tiers of English football.The first coroner's inquests into the Hillsborough disaster, completed in 1991, ruled all deaths that occurred that day to be accidental. Families strongly rejected the original coroner's findings, and their fight to have the matter re-opened persisted, despite Lord Justice Stuart-Smith concluding in 1997 there was no justification for a new inquiry. Private prosecutions brought by the Hillsborough Families Support Group against Duckenfield and his deputy Bernard Murray failed in 2000.In 2009, a Hillsborough Independent Panel was formed to review all evidence. Reporting in 2012, it confirmed Taylor's 1990 criticisms, while also revealing new details about the extent of police efforts to shift blame onto fans, the role of other emergency services, and the error of the first coroner's inquests. The panel's report resulted in the previous findings of accidental death being quashed, and the creation of new coroner's inquests. It also produced two criminal investigations led by police in 2012: Operation Resolve to look into the causes of the disaster, and by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to examine actions by police in the aftermath.The second coroner's inquests were held from 1 April 2014 to 26 April 2016. They ruled that the supporters were unlawfully killed due to grossly negligent failures by police and ambulance services to fulfil their duty of care to the supporters. The inquests also found that the design of the stadium contributed to the crush, and that supporters were not to blame for the dangerous conditions. Public anger over the actions of his force during the second inquests led the SYP chief constable David Crompton to be suspended following the verdict. In June 2017, six people were charged with various offences including manslaughter by gross negligence, misconduct in public office and perverting the course of justice for their actions during and after the disaster. The Crown Prosecution Service subsequently dropped all charges against one of the defendants.

Iraq Inquiry

The Iraq Inquiry (also referred to as the Chilcot Inquiry after its chairman, Sir John Chilcot) was a British public inquiry into the nation's role in the Iraq War. The inquiry was announced in 2009 by Prime Minister Gordon Brown and published in 2016 with a public statement by Chilcot.

On 6 July 2016, Sir John Chilcot announced the report's publication, more than seven years after the inquiry was announced. Usually referred to as the Chilcot report by the news media, the document stated that at the time of the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Saddam Hussein did not pose an urgent threat to British interests, that intelligence regarding weapons of mass destruction was presented with unwarranted certainty, that peaceful alternatives to war had not been exhausted, that the United Kingdom and the United States had undermined the authority of the United Nations Security Council, that the process of identifying the legal basis was "far from satisfactory", and that a war was unnecessary. The report was made available under an Open Government Licence.

Murder of Stephen Lawrence

Stephen Lawrence (13 September 1974 – 22 April 1993) was a black British teenager from Plumstead, south east London, who was murdered in a racially motivated attack while waiting for a bus in Well Hall, Eltham on the evening of 22 April 1993. The case became a cause célèbre; its fallout included cultural changes of attitudes on racism and the police, and to the law and police practice. It also led to the partial revocation of the rule against double jeopardy. Two of the perpetrators were convicted of murder in 2012.After the initial investigation, five suspects were arrested but not charged. It was suggested during the investigation that Lawrence was killed because he was black, and that the handling of the case by the police and Crown Prosecution Service was affected by issues of race. A 1998 public inquiry, headed by Sir William Macpherson, examined the original Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) investigation and concluded that the force was institutionally racist. It also recommended that the double jeopardy rule should be repealed in murder cases to allow a retrial upon new and compelling evidence: this was effected in 2005 upon enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The publication in 1999 of the resulting Macpherson Report has been called "one of the most important moments in the modern history of criminal justice in Britain". Jack Straw, Home Secretary from 1997 to 2001, commented in 2012 that ordering the inquiry was "the single most important decision I made as Home Secretary". In 2010 the case was said to be "one of the highest-profile unsolved racially motivated murders".On 18 May 2011, after a further review, it was announced that two of the original suspects, Gary Dobson and David Norris, were to stand trial for the murder in the light of new evidence. At the same time it was disclosed that Dobson's original acquittal had been quashed by the Court of Appeal, allowing a retrial to take place. Such an appeal had only become possible following the 2005 change in the law, although Dobson was not the first person to be retried for murder as a result. On 3 January 2012, Dobson and Norris were found guilty of Lawrence's murder; the pair were juveniles at the time of the crime and were sentenced to detention at Her Majesty's pleasure, equivalent to a life sentence for an adult, with minimum terms of 15 years 2 months and 14 years 3 months respectively for what the judge described as a "terrible and evil crime".In the years after Dobson and Norris were sentenced, the case regained prominence when concerns of corrupt police conduct during the original case handling surfaced in the media. Such claims had surfaced before, and been investigated in 2006, but were reignited in 2013 when a former undercover police officer stated in an interview that, at the time, he had been pressured to find ways to "smear" and discredit the victim's family, in order to mute and deter public campaigning for better police responses to the case. Although further inquiries in 2012 by both Scotland Yard and the Independent Police Complaints Commission had ruled that there was no basis for further investigation, Home Secretary Theresa May ordered an independent inquiry by a prominent QC into undercover policing and corruption, which was described as "devastating" when published in 2014. An inquiry into whether members of the police force shielded the alleged killers was set up in October 2015.

Natural science

Natural science is a branch of science concerned with the description, prediction, and understanding of natural phenomena, based on empirical evidence from observation and experimentation. Mechanisms such as peer review and repeatability of findings are used to try to ensure the validity of scientific advances.

Natural science can be divided into two main branches: life science (or biological science) and physical science. Physical science is subdivided into branches, including physics, chemistry, astronomy and earth science. These branches of natural science may be further divided into more specialized branches (also known as fields).

In Western society's analytic tradition, the empirical sciences and especially natural sciences use tools from formal sciences, such as mathematics and logic, converting information about nature into measurements which can be explained as clear statements of the "laws of nature". The social sciences also use such methods, but rely more on qualitative research, so that they are sometimes called "soft science", whereas natural sciences, insofar as they emphasize quantifiable data produced, tested, and confirmed through the scientific method, are sometimes called "hard science".Modern natural science succeeded more classical approaches to natural philosophy, usually traced to ancient Greece. Galileo, Descartes, Bacon, and Newton debated the benefits of using approaches which were more mathematical and more experimental in a methodical way. Still, philosophical perspectives, conjectures, and presuppositions, often overlooked, remain necessary in natural science. Systematic data collection, including discovery science, succeeded natural history, which emerged in the 16th century by describing and classifying plants, animals, minerals, and so on. Today, "natural history" suggests observational descriptions aimed at popular audiences.

Private investigator

A private investigator (often abbreviated to PI and informally called a private eye), a private detective, or inquiry agent, is a person who can be hired by individuals or groups to undertake investigatory law services. Private investigators often work for attorneys in civil and criminal cases.

Public inquiry

A tribunal of inquiry is an official review of events or actions ordered by a government body. In many common law countries, such as the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Canada, such a public inquiry differs from a Royal Commission in that a public inquiry accepts evidence and conducts its hearings in a more public forum and focuses on a more specific occurrence. Interested members of the public and organisations may not only make (written) evidential submissions as is the case with most inquiries, but also listen to oral evidence given by other parties.

Typical events for a public inquiry are those that cause multiple deaths, such as public transport crashes or mass murders. In addition, in the UK, the Planning Inspectorate, an agency of the Department for Communities and Local Government, routinely holds public inquiries into a range of major and lesser land use developments, including highways and other transport proposals.

Advocacy groups and opposition political parties are likely to ask for public inquiries for all manner of issues. The government of the day typically only accedes to a fraction of these requests. The political decision whether to appoint a public inquiry into an event was found to be dependent on several factors. The first is the extent of media coverage of the event; those that receive more media interest are more likely to be inquired. Second, since the appointment of a public inquiry is typically made by government ministers, events that involve allegations of blame on the part of the relevant minister are less likely to be investigated by a public inquiry. Third, a public inquiry generally takes longer to report and costs more on account of its public nature. Thus, when a government refuses a public inquiry on some topic, it is usually on at least one of these grounds.

The conclusions of the inquiry are delivered in the form of a written report, given first to the government, and soon after published to the public. The report will generally make recommendations to improve the quality of government or management of public organisations in the future. Recent studies have shown that the reports of public inquiries are not effective in changing public opinion regarding the event in question. Moreover, public inquiry reports appear to enjoy public trust only when they are critical of the government, and tend to lose credibility when they find no fault on the part of the government.

Royal commission

A royal commission is a major ad-hoc formal public inquiry into a defined issue in some monarchies. They have been held in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and Saudi Arabia. A royal commission is similar in function to a commission of inquiry (or, less commonly, enquiry) found in other countries such as Ireland, South Africa, and regions such as Hong Kong. It has considerable powers, generally greater even than those of a judge but restricted to the terms of reference of the commission. The commission is created by the head of state (the sovereign, or their representative in the form of a governor-general or governor) on the advice of the government and formally appointed by letters patent. In practice—unlike lesser forms of inquiry—once a commission has started the government cannot stop it. Consequently, governments are usually very careful about framing the terms of reference and generally include in them a date by which the commission must finish.

Royal commissions are called to look into matters of great importance and usually controversy. These can be matters such as government structure, the treatment of minorities, events of considerable public concern or economic questions. Many royal commissions last many years and, often, a different government is left to respond to the findings.

Scientific method

The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement (or elimination) of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.Though diverse models for the scientific method are available, there is in general a continuous process that includes observations about the natural world. People are naturally inquisitive, so they often come up with questions about things they see or hear, and they often develop ideas or hypotheses about why things are the way they are. The best hypotheses lead to predictions that can be tested in various ways. The most conclusive testing of hypotheses comes from reasoning based on carefully controlled experimental data. Depending on how well additional tests match the predictions, the original hypothesis may require refinement, alteration, expansion or even rejection. If a particular hypothesis becomes very well supported, a general theory may be developed.Although procedures vary from one field of inquiry to another, they are frequently the same from one to another. The process of the scientific method involves making conjectures (hypotheses), deriving predictions from them as logical consequences, and then carrying out experiments or empirical observations based on those predictions. A hypothesis is a conjecture, based on knowledge obtained while seeking answers to the question. The hypothesis might be very specific, or it might be broad. Scientists then test hypotheses by conducting experiments or studies. A scientific hypothesis must be falsifiable, implying that it is possible to identify a possible outcome of an experiment or observation that conflicts with predictions deduced from the hypothesis; otherwise, the hypothesis cannot be meaningfully tested.The purpose of an experiment is to determine whether observations agree with or conflict with the predictions derived from a hypothesis. Experiments can take place anywhere from a garage to CERN's Large Hadron Collider. There are difficulties in a formulaic statement of method, however. Though the scientific method is often presented as a fixed sequence of steps, it represents rather a set of general principles.

Not all steps take place in every scientific inquiry (nor to the same degree), and they are not always in the same order. Some philosophers and scientists have argued that there is no scientific method; they include physicist Lee Smolin and philosopher Paul Feyerabend (in his Against Method). Robert Nola and Howard Sankey remark that "For some, the whole idea of a theory of scientific method is yester-year's debate, the continuation of which can be summed up as yet more of the proverbial deceased equine castigation. We beg to differ."

Skeptical movement

The skeptical movement (British spelling: sceptical movement) is a modern social movement based on the idea of scientific skepticism (also called rational skepticism). Scientific skepticism involves the application of skeptical philosophy, critical-thinking skills, and knowledge of science and its methods to empirical claims, while remaining agnostic or neutral to non-empirical claims (except those that directly impact the practice of science). The movement has the goal of investigating claims made on fringe topics and determining whether they are supported by empirical research and are reproducible, as part of a methodological norm pursuing "the extension of certified knowledge". The process followed is sometimes referred to as skeptical inquiry.Roots of the movement date at least from the 19th century, when people started publicly raising questions regarding the unquestioned acceptance of claims about spiritism, of various widely-held superstitions, and of pseudoscience.

Publications such as those of the Dutch Vereniging tegen de Kwakzalverij (1881) also targeted medical quackery.

Using as a template the Belgian organization founded in 1949, Comité Para, Americans Paul Kurtz and Marcello Truzzi founded the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), in Amherst, New York in 1976. Now known as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI), this organization has inspired others to form similar groups worldwide.

The Wealth of Nations

An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, generally referred to by its shortened title The Wealth of Nations, is the magnum opus of the Scottish economist and moral philosopher Adam Smith. First published in 1776, the book offers one of the world's first collected descriptions of what builds nations' wealth, and is today a fundamental work in classical economics. By reflecting upon the economics at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the book touches upon such broad topics as the division of labour, productivity, and free markets.

Critical thinking and
informal logic
Theories of deduction

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