Data production in experimental sciences depends on localised experimental systems, but the epistemic properties of data transcend the contingencies of the processes that produce them. Philosophers often believe that experimental systems instantiate but do not produce the epistemic properties of data. In this paper, we argue that experimental systems' local functioning entails intrinsic capacities to produce the epistemic properties of data. We develop this idea by applying Derrida's model of arche-writing to study a case of theory-oriented experimental practice. Derrida's model relativises or dissolves the conceptual distinction between the moment of data production and a subsequent moment of data dissemination. It thus has consequences for understanding both data production (despite being intrinsically local, data production a priori generates transferrable and modellable information) and data dissemination (when modelling information, researchers needs to refer this information to the context of its production). We study a case of data production in a non-exploratory experimental system designed to test a pre-existing hypothesis in visual neuroscience. A case of theory-oriented experimental practice should allow us to identify the autonomous functioning of experimental systems in data production more clearly, insofar as it allows us to study the limits of pre-existing theory in the activities of these systems. We suggest that pre-existing concepts, hypotheses and theories condition the relevance but not the production of experimental data.
- Experimental systems
- Theory-oriented experimental practice
- Visual neuroscience
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- History and Philosophy of Science