January 3, 2022

What is a Beautiful Experiment?

Latest Results for Erkenntnis

Abstract

This article starts an engagement on the aesthetics of experiments and offers an account for analysing how aesthetics features in the design, evaluation and reception of experiments. I identify two dimensions of aesthetic evaluation of experiments: design and significance. When it comes to design, a number of qualities, such as simplicity, economy and aptness, are analysed and illustrated with the famous Meselson-Stahl experiment. Beautiful experiments are also regarded to make significant discoveries, but I argue against a narrow construal of experimental aims. By drawing on the plurality of goals experimenters have and diversity of aesthetic responses, I argue that experiments are aesthetically appreciated both when they discover and when they produce disruptive results.

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