The Scientific Method

Duration: 45 minutes
First broadcast: Thursday 26 January 2012

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the evolution of the Scientific Method, the systematic and analytical approach to scientific thought.

In 1620 the great philosopher and scientist Francis Bacon published the Novum Organum, a work outlining a new system of thought which he believed should inform all enquiry into the laws of nature. Philosophers before him had given their attention to the reasoning that underlies scientific enquiry; but Bacon’s emphasis on observation and experience is often seen today as giving rise to a new phenomenon: the scientific method.

The scientific method, and the logical processes on which it is based, became a topic of intense debate in the seventeenth century, and thinkers including Isaac Newton, Thomas Huxley and Karl Popper all made important contributions. Some of the greatest discoveries of the modern age were informed by their work, although even today the term ‘scientific method’ remains difficult to define.

Simon Schaffer
Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge

John Worrall
Professor of the Philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics and Political Science

Michela Massimi
Senior Lecturer in the Philosophy of Science at University College London.