The Argument from Surprise

11 Dec 2017

I develop an account of productive surprise as an epistemic virtue of scientific investigations which does not turn on psychology alone. On my account, a scientific investigation is potentially productively surprising when (1) results can conflict with epistemic expectations, (2) those expectations pertain to a wide set of subjects. I argue that there are two sources of such surprise in science. One source, often identified with experiments, involves bringing our theoretical ideas in contact with new empirical observations. Another, often identified with simulations, involves articulating and bringing together different parts of our knowledge. Both experiments and simulations, then, can surprise.