lecture_20_2x2 - Announcements and Such Two Songs...

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Announcements and Such Two Songs — Cymande “Losin Ground”, and “The Recluse” …both from Promised Heights Second Essay due today @ 4pm Today: Scientific Knowledge (Mainly) Individual Scientific Knowledge (Briefly) Social Aspects of Scientific Knowledge Next Time: Moral Knowledge Scientific knowledge depends very heavily on perception , because it involves empirical claims. But, science is not so much concerned with claims about individual physical objects ( particulars ). Science is concerned with general claims about physical objects, which are called laws of nature. Some historical examples of laws of nature are: Kepler’s laws of planetary motion Newton’s laws of motion Einstein’s laws of relativistic motion These are all claims about physical objects, but they are not claims about particular objects. And, not all true general (physical) claims are laws . Scientific Knowledge I The Objects of Scientific Knowledge I Consider the following two claims: 1. All man-made macroscopic objects have a maximum speed of <11,500 meters per second. 2. All man-made macroscopic objects have a maximum speed of <300,000 meters per second. Claim (1) is a true general claim about the (actual) physical world. Thus, so is (2). But, (2) is different . One key difference between (1) and (2) is that (1) is not implied by our best physical theories, but (2) is . (1) happens to be true, but it is consistent with our best physical theories that claim (1) be false . (2) must be true, if our best scientific theories are true. This makes (2) a law of nature , whereas (1) is merely a (actually) true general (physical) claim. Scientific Knowledge I The Objects of Scientific Knowledge II Of course, we can use scientific theories to predict things about particular objects. This typically requires the use of auxiliary assumptions . For instance, we can use Newton’s laws to predict the trajectory of a particular spacecraft. But, to do this, we need to plug-in various auxiliaries . In this case, the auxiliaries might include the initial velocity , position, and mass of the spacecraft, etc . Also, some “laws” can be derived from more general “laws” with the help of auxiliaries . We can derive Kepler’s “laws” of planetary motion from Newton’s “laws” of motion, by plugging-in the appropriate auxiliaries (the masses of the planets and their initial velocities) Science is after the most explanatory set of laws. Scientific Knowledge I The Objects of Scientific Knowledge III
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Science operates via conjectures and tests : First, a question (of a general nature) is posed. [Usually, these questions arise because some unexplained phenomena have been observed.] Then, (and sometimes simultaneously) various candidate answers ( hypotheses ) are formulated.
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