Prof. Giora Hon PhD

October1st 2020 - March 31th 2021

Affiliation: University of Haifa | haifa · Department of Philosophy

Research for a study about:

To Probe Experiment with Error: A Novel Perspective on the Methodology of Experimentation

Abstract of the Research Project

The primary objective of this project is to develop a novel philosophy of experiment, designed to analyse the methodology of experimentation—its constitutive elements, its phases, its possible structure, its principles, all that makes it function as a basic methodology of science. This novel philosophy is motivated by the need to understand fundamental open questions such as, What is an experiment? How does an experiment generate knowledge? What are the phases of the procedure we call experiment? And how are they linked to result in knowledge about the world? Does then an experiment have a structure? If positive, how does the obtained knowledge reflect this structure? The project’s secondary objective is to exploit the resulting philosophy of experiment in search of modifications of the methodology of experimentation. The gaol is to bring to fruition methodological implications drawn from the philosophical analyses.

The guiding idea of this philosophical research is the use of the concept of error as a probe. Evidently, errors arise in the execution of experiment. Different kinds of errors occur, depending on their sources and the contexts in which they are identified. My pioneering method of analysis consists, first, of characterizing errors in experiment—their sources, contexts, and nature. Then, the determination of errors uncovers the relevant constitutive elements of experiment and their dynamical relations. In this way the negative approach to experiment results in positive perspective on the working of the methodology of experimentation.

Implementing philosophical consequences is not trivial; the successful transition from the abstract to the concrete cannot be guaranteed. Yet, the project’s gain is clear: a novel philosophy of experiment will offer new insights into the methodology of experimentation, which in turn could open up new vistas of experimental research unforeseen thus far.



Online Lecture:

To Probe Experiment with Error: A Novel Perspective on the Methodology of Experimentation 


Time: 3 - 5 pm

Plattform: Moodle Collaborate

Online Lecture:

James Clerk Maxwell's Methodological Odyssey in Electromagnetism: A Philosophical Perspective

Date: 28/01/2021

Time: 3 - 5 pm

Plattform: Moodle Collaborate| Talks in Philosophy of Science and Epistemology PSE


Einstein (1931): "The greatest alteration in the axiomatic basis of physics—in our conception of the structure of reality—since the foundation of theoretical physics by Newton, originated in the researches of Faraday and Maxwell on electromagnetic phenomena.... Since Maxwell's time Physical Reality has been thought of as represented by continuous fields, governed by partial differential equations, and not capable of any mechanical interpretation. This change in the conception of Reality is the most profound and fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton." We ask, then, What was Maxwell's key to this fundamental change in the conception of physical reality? By following the trajectory of Maxwell's several contributions to electromagnetism, which we characterize as an odyssey, we uncover one fundamental aspect of this success—innovative methodologies. (Co-authored with Bernard R. Goldstein, University of Pittsburgh).


Giora Hon is a professor (emeritus) of the History and Philosophy of Science in the Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa, Israel.

Giora Hon has published widely on the problem of error in philosophy and in science, especially in connection with the methodology of experimentation. In 2009 he collaborated with Jutta Schickore and Friedrich Steinle in editing the volume, Going Amiss in Experimental Research (Springer). Together with Bernard R. Goldstein, in 2008 he published a comprehensive study, From Summetria to Symmetry: The Making of a Revolutionary Scientific Concept (Springer). A further theme which he researched together with Bernard R. Goldstein concerns methodology in physics. This study has come to fruition in a recent publication, Reflections on The Practice of Physics: James Clerk Maxwell’s Methodological Odyssey in Electromagnetism (Routledge). He was a guest editor, together with Yael Kedar, of a special collection of articles in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (vol. 81 [2020]) on the theme of "Law and Order: natural regularities before the scientific revolution".