Thoughts on Science

Thoughts on Science - Thoughts on the metaphysics of...

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Thoughts on the metaphysics of Science "How can science claim to be truth?" F. Skiff Truth-Finding is a process that rests on epistemology – your beliefs about what you can and can't know. Any process of finding truth rests on a belief concerning what truth is like and concerning our ability to find it. We will address the question here in a descriptive way. What is the faith that underlies scientific methods? Is truth finding in science a computable algorithm, or is it open ended? Although there are very many particular methods used by individual scientists, there are some general principles concerning how science works. Experimental physical science will be the primary subject in view. Clearly it is not possible to have a valid method for truth-finding if truth does not exist, or if truth is necessarily inaccessible. The starting point for truth finding, therefore, is a belief in truth and in the possibility of knowing the truth by some means. Attempts to prove the capability of science to find truth run into the trouble that they must assume what they intend to prove. The philosophy of objectivism tautologically declares that science finds truth- this is faith in the objectivity of the "self". In each case, the hope of knowing truth rests on some kind of faith. Historically, the faith that supports science came principally from Christianity as is clearly demonstrated in the writings of Kepler, Newton, Faraday, Maxwell, etc. Today, science is often presented to the public as a world-view, or as a religion in itself (called scientism, materialism, or methodological naturalism), but there is no philosophical justification for doing this. Science, like language, is something that all people do to
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This note was uploaded on 03/30/2008 for the course 029 044 taught by Professor Skiff during the Spring '08 term at University of Iowa.

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Thoughts on Science - Thoughts on the metaphysics of...

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