Intellectual Schelling Points

  • Observations — Researchers can agree that observations have occurred, or allegedly have occurred, without agreeing on the true interpretation of those observations. Those observations, or alleged observations, can then form the basis for successful intellectual exchange.
  • Methods — Researchers can use the same or similar methods, even while aware of the imperfection of those methods and disagreeing with each other about exactly why the methods are imperfect. Some methods can be used by different researchers in a way that yields similar enough results to create intellectual common ground.
  • Instruments — Researchers can use the same instruments and compare and discuss results even while disagreeing about how the instruments work or what the instruments are measuring. Some instruments will yield similar and interesting enough results to enable researcher discussion, communication, etc.
  • Theories — Researchers can discuss or act on the basis of a theory, even while all believing the theory is ultimately mistaken and while disagreeing with each other about how. Some theories will enable sufficiently fruitful discussion or yield sufficiently similar results when acted on to generate intellectual common ground.

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Geoff Anders

Geoff Anders

Philosopher, research program designer.