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Beyond Reasonable Doubt? – An Excursion to Epistemology

Franz Klein


Practical bench-work is only seemingly detached from the art of reasoning. It is imperative to be able to formulate meaningful hypotheses and to put them to critical tests, at least doing the right controls. Moreover, in the competition for public awareness, overstatements are to be avoided. The ability to formulate attractive, testable hypotheses consistent with available data is a contemporary scientific key qualification.

  • Expose students to the skeleton behind scientific decision making
  • Attempt to formalize simple decision steps and explore the limit of this method
  • Raise the interest in epistemological questions, such as: What can be asked?
    What needs to be done before publicly introducing a hypothesis?
  • Create a lively discussion with students and other participants
  • Publish a report on the event.

Content of the workshop
  • How to design a meaningful experiment?
  • How to describe the result of a meaningful experiment? (Scientific logic in English applied to Genetics and Biochemistry)
  • Is Critical Rationalism the appropriate intellectual tool for laboratory science?
  • How to reconcile the claim “proof beyond reasonable doubt” and Popper’s concept of non-existence of verification?
  • What is the right balance between hypothesis-driven and other forms of research?
  • What makes a hypothesis interesting and where is the limit of scientific discussion?

Max Perutz Labs_new