Or are some fields mistakenly classified as science?
At Big Think, Lee Smolin, a cosmologist at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics who has suggested cosmic Darwinism (new universes governed by Darwinian evolution sprout in cosmic black holes), also muses on the idea that there is no scientific method:
Feyerabend thought it was very important to underline that we didn’t know why science works. And so I gave a lot of thought to this problem over the years and my point of view, my proposal, is that science works because scientists form communities and traditions based not on a common set of methods, but a common set of ethical principles. And there are two ethical principles that I think underlie the success of science and I call these the Principles of the Open Future. The first one is that we agree to tell the truth and we agree to be governed by rational argument from public evidence. So when there is a disagreement it can be resolved by referring to a rational deduction from public evidence. We agree to be so swayed.
Whether we originally came to that point of view or not to that point of view, whether that was our idea or somebody else’s idea, whether it’s our research program or a rival research program, we agree to let evidence decide. Now one sees this happening all the time in science. This is the strength of science.
The second principle is that when the evidence does not decide, when the evidence is not sufficient to decide from rational argument, whether one point of view is right or another point of view is right, we agree to encourage competition and diversification amongst the professionals in the community.
The difficulty is that in many fields that is just not what we are seeing.
Incidentally, Smolin himself works largely in an area where evidence wouldn’t seem to matter much. He has espoused cosmic Darwinism, where new universes sprout from black holes:
It seemed to me that the only principle powerful enough to explain the high degree of organization of our universe—compared to a universe with the particles and forces chosen randomly—was natural selection itself. (Lee Smolin, “A Theory of the Whole Universe” in John Brockman, ed., The
Third Culture (New York: Simon and Schuster Touchstone, 1996), p. 294: http://tinyurl.com/4xr9s3u)
He and colleagues have also aimed to take relativity to a brand new level: “They say we need to forget about the home Einstein invented for us: we live instead in a place called phase space.” That, we are told, is a “curious eight-dimensional world that merges our familiar four dimensions of space and time and a four-dimensional world called momentum space.”
On the whole, if this is science, isn’t it just as well that there is no scientific method?
But wait a minute …
See also: Top notch studies commonly report contradictory genealogies today