Philosophical Inquiries and the Nature of Science Essay

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Sources: 5
  • Subject: Science
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #85576910

Excerpt from Essay :

The nature of science

A number of scientists have the feeling that philosophical inquiries are well outdated. They purportedly can handle matters in a better way than their social constructivists counterparts. Philosophers and physicists are very different from each other, especially taking into account what some renown physicist recently commented on philosophy. Stephen Hawking for instance is on a campaign to tarnish philosophers. He might not be so convincing in whatever points he puts across, but he is winning the heart of the public by his jokes on philosophers. Jokes have for a long time been known to really move the masses. His most recent book, The Grand Design, co authored by Leonard Mlodinow, starts by scrutinizing the nature of reality, the beginning of all things and the purpose of God. He then claims these to be matters of philosophy, which is in itself dead. Philosophy, according to him, is not at par with the current trends in science. This leaves science as the sole tool for increase of knowledge (Hawkings & Mlodinow, 2010). Such books are well received by the society in general, and thus can create some friction between philosophers and scientists, and in particular degrade philosophy . This is especially true when the book is written in an authoritative style like that of Stephen Hawking (Faye, 2012).

At this juncture, let me try to differentiate physics from metaphysics. In summary, physics presupposes metaphysics. Even the most popular authors of scientific pieces find it difficult to put across the metaphysical foundation of their particular study areas through a scientific approach. Kuhn asserted that a given metaphysical idea is normally dependent on the subject’s inclination. Philosophers cannot explain how scientism is categorized as a scientific doctrine. Naturalism is likewise a difficult topic for the philosopher, despite the fact that modern science and philosophy are built on it. The list goes on and on. No matter how you look at naturalism, your arguments will many times be based on philosophy. Take for instance the need to prove that success is an important virtue to pursue. Scientific inquiries on their own cannot lead to meaningful conclusion.

It is quite difficult for scientists to buy some new idea. In the first place, they don’t know what it is all about, and also do not have a guideline on how to evaluate it. Conflicting paradigms cannot be compared easily. It is a fact that holders of different opinions can argue endlessly without coming to an amicable agreement, mostly because their interpretation of basic terms is very different. A single term can bear up to ten interpretations by different scholars. None of the interpretations can be labeled as wrong. The transformation of scientists is therefore a political as well as a subjective process. Kuhn, in his study of Aristotle, experienced some abrupt, intuitive understanding. Scientists are known to only buy ideas which are supported by many others (Horgan, 2012).

Man has for ages desired to understand ‘how we come to know”. Up till now there has not been any agreement regarding this matter, and we don’t expect any in the near and far future. This has for long been the point of focus for great scholars, each of which has postulated different perspectives. Both philosophers and scientists have tried to look into the development of knowledge in the world. They have spent thousands of hours on theories and experiments that would let us understand how knowledge advances in the world. Positivism promoted the shift from a metaphysical to a scientific era. Positivism also advanced human knowledge by finding answers through…

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…would start from scratch and get to experimenting so as to give answers to questions that disturbed their minds. A good example is Isaac Newton, before the laws of motion were even discovered. This has lately changed due to the need for professional approach of such matter, and the prohibitive funding required. Scientific research nowadays costs a big fortune, and therefore knocks out many aspiring researchers. It is a fact that media personnel and lawmakers engage in such activities more than the researchers in the labs, and thus are very likely to paint a cynical image of scientists, as merely another minority group.

The divergent demarcation criteria is a relatively general phenomenon. It is evident that philosophers and other theoreticians do not hold the same views on science. Even so, some level of unanimity has been observed in the group of knowledge disciplines. Take for example the claim that astrology, creationism, Kirlian photography, Holocaust denialism, Climate change denialism, ufology, dowsing and ancient astronaut theory are pseudosciences. The status of Freudian psychoanalysis is likewise surrounded by a myriad of controversies, but scholars seems to agree on this to some extent. It is somehow ironical how scholars have largely agreed on some various issues, while at the same time totally disagreeing on some issues. This points us to the fact that we still need more philosophical work done on the difference between science and pseudoscience (The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2016).

Aside from differentiating science and pseudoscience, philosophical reflection has yielded some other problem areas to be addressed. These include: differentiation between science and religion, how science relates to reliable non-scientific knowledge, the extent of justifiable simplification in scientific programs, the implications of the theory of a supernatural occurrence, and the verification of methodological naturalism (Boudry et.al 2010). All the above listed…

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