Carving joints into nature: reengineering scientific concepts in light of concept-laden evidence

Dubova, M., & Goldstone, R. L. (2023). Carving joints into nature: reengineering scientific concepts in light of concept-laden evidence.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 27: 7, 656-670.

A new wave of proposals suggests that scientists must reassess scientific concepts in light of accumulated evidence. However, reengineering scientific concepts in light of data is challenging because scientific concepts affect the evidence itself in multiple ways. Among other possible influences, concepts (i) prime scientists to overemphasize within-concept similarities and betweenconcept differences; (ii) lead scientists to measure conceptually relevant dimensions more accurately; (iii) serve as units of scientific experimentation, communication, and theory-building; and (iv) affect the phenomena themselves. When looking for improved ways to carve nature at its joints, scholars must take the concept-laden nature of evidence into account to avoid entering a vicious circle of concept-evidence mutual substantiation.

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