Although we're still small, we discuss the history and philosophy of science often at my boards
and have several experts there (along with me as light relief and for comic effect). You and anyone else would be most welcome.
The philosopher of science Larry Laudan wrote a famous paper on this issue, entitled The Demise of the Demarcation Problem
. When i'm posting here, my
problem is guessing how much people already know or want to know, especially being new. I don't want to talk down to anyone, but at the same time i don't want to mention references that no-one has heard of.
I meant Imre Lakatos' Methodology of Scientific Research Programmes
, which you can find in the work of the same name. I discuss his ideas briefly in an introduction
to the philosophy of science that i wrote at my boards, if you're interested. (My apologies for offering my worthless bluster; it isn't my intention to plug it.)
Well, we see empiricism in classical Greece and i wonder how useful it is to try to determine when your "scientific method" came about; that is, it would be anachronistic like i already said and likely require some creative work to make it fit.
We find China well ahead of Europe for a long time, developing astronomical clocks, armillary spheres, records of sunspot activity and observatories that were supported by government. Even geodetic surveys were not beyond the Chinese of the eighth century. Experimenticism was present in Chinese (especially Daoist) alchemy and medicine was well advanced. They were also using magnets to navigate. However, it wasn't until the seventeenth century that they were exposed to Ptolemaic and Copernican astronomy, along with Euclidean geometry, with the arrival of the Jesuits. There is very little evidence of transmission of ideas from China to Europe and the former never came to the notion of natural law (or similar), in large part due to Daoist philosophical influences as to the unknowability of the Dao.
What do you want to know about other societies?
You'll have to be a little clearer. Are you looking for evidence of a proto-scientific method in areas that didn't contribute to the eventual development of the same? If so, to what end? Are you hoping that this so-called method is bound to develop, sooner or later and given the right circumstances?
How would we answer a question like that?
What do you mean by "effective"? It would probably make more sense if you questioned first the utility of your idea of "scientific method". Is this an appropriate heuristic to use in the history of science? Do we require an essentialist notion of what science is to study its history?