The epistemological limits of science.

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Reply Fri 5 Mar, 2010 11:56 pm
The epistemological limits of science.

Some have begun to assert that science defines what is "real" and what "exists".

Quine asserted something along the lines of
There is fundamentally only one kind of object in the world physical objects
And
There is fundamentally only one kind of knowledge-scientific knowledge.

Can one build a complete, coherent, comprehensive world view based on what science alone can tell us?

Does science deny that there are any other paths to knowledge or to truth?

Can science teach us about the whole or reality or only part of reality?

Does science tell us anything about meaning, about purpose, about values.
Does science provide a coherent picture of human experience?

Is science more like Karl Poppers image of science as a searchlight scanning the sky for planes? Or is science more like Quine's vision lighting up the entire sky showing us all that can be seen?

 
amist
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 12:16 am
@prothero,
Quote:
Can one build a complete, coherent, comprehensive world view based on what science alone can tell us?


No. With mere science, one cannot explain mathematics. Also, even the scientific viewpoint requires a metaphysical viewpoint/set of assumptions. Namely that there are material objects and that they are perceivable to perceivers who have adequate faculties, also causation. I'd say science doesn't even have pretensions of defining what exists or is real, since it is constantly self correcting. It's simply an account of what all of the empirical data of the senses implies about the physical, external world.

Quote:
Does science tell us anything about meaning, about purpose, about values.


Science makes no value judgments and thus can't tell us anything about meaning/purpose etc. Except maybe by deflating our purpose in the world by constructing a view of how small our place in it is.
 
mike90t09
 
Reply Sat 6 Mar, 2010 12:31 am
@prothero,
I will try not to wonder off topic and give you my response based on your questions.

Firstly, Can one build a complete, coherent, comprehensive world view based on what science can tell us?
I would say no. Because what about moral, learning right from wrong, is that science? I don't think science can teach us that. How can one have a world view without knowing right from wrong?

Does science deny that there are any other paths to knowledge or truth?
Yes and no. Science is experimenting and exploration. There are many paths to knowledge and truth until science proves that there is only one. If science is wrong, then the paths open up again, but some people will say that the paths are always there, we just have to find them.

Can science teach us about the whole or reality or part of reality?

I think that science can teach us about the whole of reality. Because the reality in which we live is science.

Does science tell us anything about meaning, about purpose, about value?
No. Science can not tell us these things. These are based on life experiences and religious and philosophical beliefs. Everyone decides differently, there really is no universal answer about how we are supposed to answer these. Everyone will tell a different meaning for life, a different purpose, and different values that they hold.

Does science provide a coherent picture of human experience?
Again, yes and no. Because we can explore all the scientific discoveries about what we have experienced and discovered. No, because everyone is different and had many different personal experiences that science cannot explain.

This is just my input on the situation and as far as your last question is concerned, I feel that Poppers makes more sense. Science is about not knowing and the exploration to discover new things. It's not fun to already see and know everything.

Great post btw.
 
dharma bum
 
Reply Wed 10 Mar, 2010 09:35 pm
@prothero,
Interesting post. Personally, I don't think science can prove much of everything. It ignores that Eternal Energy which is called by many God or Nature, which runs through a current into and out of all beings and all things - an energy which cannot be measured but of which poetry and paintings are purely made of.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Wed 10 Mar, 2010 09:52 pm
@prothero,
prothero;136802 wrote:
Some have begun to assert that science defines what is "real" and what "exists".
Presumably you dont mean the observations made and data collected by scientists, as these aren't unique to science, so I dont think that science tells us whats real, in this sense, anymore that other ways of observing do. Science is mainly the business of deciding reliably repeatable useful procedures, which is rather like writing culinary recipes, and I think it's as absurd to claim that science defines what's real as it would be to say that Mrs. Beeton defines what's real. Further, science is limited by the need to make predictions, this means that anything that isn't algorithmically tractable is outside its scope.
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 01:06 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;138513 wrote:
Presumably you dont mean the observations made and data collected by scientists, as these aren't unique to science, so I dont think that science tells us whats real, in this sense, anymore that other ways of observing do. Science is mainly the business of deciding reliably repeatable useful procedures, which is rather like writing culinary recipes, and I think it's as absurd to claim that science defines what's real as it would be to say that Mrs. Beeton defines what's real. Further, science is limited by the need to make predictions, this means that anything that isn't algorithmically tractable is outside its scope.


Your view is too simple....

What physics do so is to contruct a theory that confirms itself by producing many experiments that confirm itself! Observation becomes a theory ladden process by which we cannot see past our theory when we explaining the world. physics does this by the process of postulate things that account for what we see. These things are electrons, quarks etc.
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 02:24 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;138545 wrote:
Your view is too simple....

What physics do so is to contruct a theory that confirms itself by producing many experiments that confirm itself! Observation becomes a theory ladden process by which we cannot see past our theory when we explaining the world. physics does this by the process of postulate things that account for what we see. These things are electrons, quarks etc.
How's this relevant to my post?
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 06:28 am
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;138554 wrote:
How's this relevant to my post?


You view of science as just making predictions is to simple, so i feel the need to lecture you on the importance of science!
 
ughaibu
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 06:43 am
@TuringEquivalent,
TuringEquivalent;138575 wrote:
You view of science as just making predictions is to simple, so i feel the need to lecture you on the importance of science!
I didn't say that, I said science is mainly the business of deciding reliably repeatable useful procedures.
 
TuringEquivalent
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 12:38 pm
@ughaibu,
ughaibu;138577 wrote:
I didn't say that, I said science is mainly the business of deciding reliably repeatable useful procedures.


This is why i said your view is simple. The whole process of judging "what is a reliably repeatable useful procedure" is part of a scientific theory.


In any case, saying that a scientific theory is useful, using it to explain observations, and using it to control conditions of experiments are all part of a theory. In fact, learning philosophy of science really tells you what science is not, rather than what science is, because what it is is so easly to provide a counterexample.


Even common sense itself is a theory. It is a theory that makes prediction, and comfire itself.

What theory( scientific or not...) is a paradigm, a set of standard, rule of thumb that seeks comfirm itself by the process of continue use. It is also that means by which we understand, and the basis of obvervation itself.

Read Kuhn, and paul Churahland s discussion on the theory ladden nature of all perceptual processes.
 
Fido
 
Reply Thu 11 Mar, 2010 03:47 pm
@prothero,
prothero;136802 wrote:
The epistemological limits of science.

Some have begun to assert that science defines what is "real" and what "exists".

Quine asserted something along the lines of
There is fundamentally only one kind of object in the world physical objects
And
There is fundamentally only one kind of knowledge-scientific knowledge.

Can one build a complete, coherent, comprehensive world view based on what science alone can tell us?

Does science deny that there are any other paths to knowledge or to truth?

Can science teach us about the whole or reality or only part of reality?

Does science tell us anything about meaning, about purpose, about values.
Does science provide a coherent picture of human experience?

Is science more like Karl Poppers image of science as a searchlight scanning the sky for planes? Or is science more like Quine's vision lighting up the entire sky showing us all that can be seen?


It is not that science defines what is real, and what exists; but the other way around, that these qualities define science since science can relate no others...
 
 

 
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