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Epistemological implications of the use of massive amount of data in the process of scientific discovery

Grant number: 20/03134-1
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): September 01, 2020
Effective date (End): August 31, 2022
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy - Epistemology
Principal researcher:Maria Eunice Quilici Gonzalez
Grantee:Mariana Vitti Rodrigues
Home Institution: Faculdade de Filosofia e Ciências (FFC). Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP). Campus de Marília. Marília , SP, Brazil


The aim of this project is to investigate possible epistemological implications of applying massive amount of data, known as Big Data, to the process of scientific discovery. The central problem that guides our investigation can be formulated as follows: What are the possible epistemological implications of employing Big Data analytics in the process of scientific discovery? From this central question, two specific questions arise: (i) To what extent can semantic and pragmatic aspects present in the process of scientific discovery be automated by applying Big Data analytics?; (ii) What criteria are involved in the selection of relations (causal and/or correlational) in large databases available to the scientific analysis? To investigate these questions, we will present the contemporary debate about epistemological implications of using Big Data analytics for scientific investigation. We will then elucidate the concepts of data, information, and meaning, in the contexts of philosophy of information, with emphasis on the works of Charles S. Peirce, Fred Dretske, and Sabina Leonelli. We will also analyze the concept of causality, indicating similarities between causal and informational relations in scientific research. Finally, we will propose an analysis of the process of scientific discovery in the Big Data era, highlighting the role of information in abductive and diagrammatic reasoning. Illustrative examples of scientific discovery in the Big Data era will be analyzed during this research. (AU)

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