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The structure of scientific thinking

A Field of Inquiry

Fields of inquiry are defined not by specific theories about the phenomenon they study but by the kinds of questions they pose about them. Fields of inquiry can be with humanistic area of human interest or of a more scientific nature. which have mathematics as their basis.


Fields of inquiry thus differ from paradigms, which are defined by the specific theories and methodologies with which they seek to answer the questions that define a field of inquiry.


A theory seeks to define and briefly explain a phenomenon observed, or thought to exist, and uses a paradigm as its basis.

Scientific basis of study

Guided by the theory or theories at the heart of a field of inquiry, research will be conducted to find evidence by means of data to support, refine, contradict or redefine, the theory. Existing methodologies will be used in these researches as well as methods developed specifically to support the researches.

Discoveries frequently occur which were not previously suspected which may support the existing theory, or call for a new theory and may themselves lead to new fields of inquiry or the subdivision of the existing one.

The application of scientific findings

Some science is pursued for its own sake; the extension of human knowledge, referred to as pure research. Other fields of inquiry, applied research, seek to find data and methods which have application in real life.

The infinitude of scientific inquiry

There appears to be no limit to the extent of scientific inquiry. The more we find out, the more we find that there is much more we don’t know, some of which will always elude our ability, for a variety of reasons, to gain knowledge of them.

Malcolm D B Munro
Saturday 7 April, 2018

Some of the content of this post is based upon the Gazetteer entry, “Evolutionary Psychology” in Evolution: the First Four Billion Years, Michael Buse and Joseph Travis, editors, published by Harvard University, 2009; 979 pp.


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