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Lecture Notes on PHL 205 Philosophy of Science.

Lecture Notes on PHL 205 Philosophy of Science.

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Published by alloyihuah
Scientists are unbiased observers who use the scientific method to conclusively confirm and conclusively falsify various theories. These experts have no preconceptions in gathering the data and logically derive theories from these objective observations. One great strength of science is that it’s self-correcting, because scientists readily abandon theories when they are shown to be irrational. Although such eminent views of science have been accepted by many people, they are almost completely untrue. Data can neither conclusively confirm nor conclusively falsify theories, there really is no such thing as the scientific method, data become somewhat subjective in practice, and scientists have displayed a surprisingly fierce loyalty to their theories. There have been many misconceptions of what science is and is not. I’ll discuss why these misconstruals are inaccurate.Weshall talk about some of the basics of what science is; a project whose goal is to obtain knowledge of the natural world, an endearvour that deals with the system of science itself. It examines science’s structure, components, techniques, assumptions, limitations, and so forth.


Scientists are unbiased observers who use the scientific method to conclusively confirm and conclusively falsify various theories. These experts have no preconceptions in gathering the data and logically derive theories from these objective observations. One great strength of science is that it’s self-correcting, because scientists readily abandon theories when they are shown to be irrational. Although such eminent views of science have been accepted by many people, they are almost completely untrue. Data can neither conclusively confirm nor conclusively falsify theories, there really is no such thing as the scientific method, data become somewhat subjective in practice, and scientists have displayed a surprisingly fierce loyalty to their theories. There have been many misconceptions of what science is and is not. I’ll discuss why these misconstruals are inaccurate.Weshall talk about some of the basics of what science is; a project whose goal is to obtain knowledge of the natural world, an endearvour that deals with the system of science itself. It examines science’s structure, components, techniques, assumptions, limitations, and so forth.


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Lecture NotePhilosophy of science
 BY 
 Alloy S Ihuah PhD
The
philosophy of science
, a sub-branch of epistemology. It is the branch o philosophythat studies the philosophical assumptions, foundations, and implicationsof science, including the natural sciences such as physics,chemistry, and  biology,the social sciences such as psychology,history, andsociology, and sometimes—  especially beginning about the second decade of the twentieth century—the formalsciences, such aslogic,mathematics, set theory, and proof theory. In this last respect, the philosophy of science is often closely related to philosophy of language,   philosophy of mathematics, and to formal systems of logic and formal languages.
Questions Addressed by Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of science investigates and seeks to explain such questions as:
What is science? Is there one thing that constitutes science, or are there manydifferent kinds or fields of inquiry that are different but are nevertheless calledsciences?
Does or can science lead to certainty?
How is genuine or true science to be distinguished—demarcated, to use the usual philosopher's term—from non-science or pseudo-science? Or is this impossible, and,if so, what does this do for the claims that some things are pseudosciences?
What is the nature of scientific statements, concepts, and conclusions; how are theyare created; and how are they justified (if justification is indeed possible)?
Is there any such thing as a scientific method? If there is, what are the types of reasoning used to arrive at conclusions and the formulation of it, and is there any limitto this method or methods?
Is the growth of science cumulative or revolutionary?
For a new scientific theory, can one say it is “nearer to thetruth,” and, if so, how?Does science make progress, in some sense of that term, or does it merely change? If it does make progress, how is progress determined and measured?
What means should be used for determining the acceptability, validity, or truthfulnessof statements in science, i.e. is objectivity possible, and how can it be achieved?
How does science explain, predict and, through technology, harness nature?
What are the implications of scientific methods and models for the larger society,including for the sciences themselves?
What is the relationship, if any, between science andreligionand science andethics,  or are these completely separate?Those questions may always have existed in some form, but they came to the fore in Western philosophy after the coming of what has been called the scientific revolution, and they became especially central and much-discussed in the twentieth century, when philosophy of science became a self-conscious and highly investigated discipline.It must be noted that, despite what some scientists or other people may say or think, allscience is philosophy-embedded. Philosopher Daniel Dennett (1995:37) has written, “Thereis no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination.”
 
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Towards a Definition:
Etymologically, the word science is derived from the Latin word
 scientia, ie
“knowledge”.Understood as human activity thus said to be “knowledge” is a human undertaking to learnabout the world around us through a special method called “scientific method”. We shallsome back to this latter. But suffice it to say, however, that there is no one and only definitionof science. This is partly because the standpoints from which authors look at science differ. Inhis book “What is Science?” Normal Campbell writes that science can be looked at from twoaspects: firstly; science is a body of knowledge and a method of obtaining it. Secondly,science is a pure intellectual study, and so in this regard akin to painting, sculpture or literature rather than the technical arts. Understood in this light, science aim only at satisfyingthe needs of the mind and not those of the body. It appeals to nothing but the disinterestedcuriosity of mankind.We may say perhaps that though limited in scope the second aspect of science is closelylinked with the first. Both project science as a whole body of knowledge, logicallyinterconnected and directed at achieving some desired goal; spiritual or material. Arguably,such an endeavour requires systematic coherence, objective and standardized method as itsimport ingredients. This conception of science may have informed Amadi’s definitions of science, that it could also mean (i) knowledge especially of fact or principles gained bysystematic study. (ii) a particular branch of knowledge especially one dealing with body ofacts or truth systematically arrange and showing the operations of general laws as thescience of mathematics. (iii) Systematized knowledge especially of the law and facts of the physical or material world. He thus sums up science as,The pursuit of knowledge and understanding of the natural and social dimensions of our world of observation, formulating descriptive systems by controlled experiments to determinethe degree to which these system represent the phenomena world etc.Understood as such, science is concerned with both man and his way as much as everythingthat is foreign and external to man. It is a branch of pure learning which is concerned with the properties of the external world of nature which business is to find accurately those propertiesare, to interpret them, and to make them intelligible to man; the intellectual satisfaction atwhich its aims would be secured completely if this external world could be reduced to order and be shown to be directed by principles which are in harmony with our intellectual andmoral desires. As an intellectual endeavour, science is both natural philosophy as well asmoral philosophy which learning arose ultimately from man’s desire to understand the world.Perhaps it is this understanding of science that the complex adjectival form of the world“science”, namely “scientific “i.e.
knowledge- making 
has today come to be accepted as thereal province of science which in the early beginnings was the original enterprise of natural philosophy. No wonder therefore that science has come to be accepted as “the making of knowledge i.e. research instead of knowledge as such. Thus, science described as such is thesystematic process of making knowledge; of building knowledge.Thus far, science can be provisionally defined as the process, or the group of interrelated process though which we can acquire modern and over –changing knowledge of the naturalworld which encompasses inanimate nature, life, human nature and human society. It thusmeans that the result of science can never be static; changing and gain. Perhaps it is thisquality of science that Ogbinaka (1998:178) writes that the intellectual frontiers of sciencehave ever been expanding with very little of its contents being dropped. This has been doneto such an extent that the intellectual results of ‘yester science’ look crude and naïve in theface of today’s science. Quoting from the
Encyclopedia Britannica
vol. 6, he argues further that this conception of science has provided f very strong for the following concepts of science;
 
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(i) Science can be taken to be a mood in which the World is considered. Being a mood, weshould accommodate its changing states. Just as no man is always in the same mood, and noman of science remains permanently in the same scientific mood.(ii) Science is always developing. It is not a static body of knowledge.(iii) Science is more of the making of “knowledge” (i.e. in contradictions with a claim that itis knowledge itself’, so it is close to be called a research; a method employed in pursuit of agoal which involves “the acquisition of systematic generalized knowledge concerning thenatural world; knowledge which helps man to understand nature, to predict natural events andto control force.”This again involves the use of previously accumulated knowledge to construct generaltheories or systems from which testable hypotheses can be derived, and the testing of suchhypotheses via quantified observation under controlled conditions.Thus far we may ask whether such a conception of science, argued above adequate for theanalysis of the impact of science oh human development, but in particular Africandevelopment. We may argue that such a conception of science reduced to a “method”employed in pursuit of a goal is inadequate on the following ground.(i) As the acquisition of “Systematic” generalized knowledge concerning the natural world,science is made to be a scarce commodity reserved only for the west to the exclusion of thedeveloping world. But this is clearly fallacious, for science id a widely distributedcommodity, found in every culture tradition.(ii) Science as a whole is a process, which transcends particular scientists, research teams,and institutes. Hence, to argue that scientific goals encompass outcomes toward whichmovement occurs is to miss the point. Put in proper perspective, a “goal” as usuallyunderstood in an outcome, which people strive or more generally toward which the internalfunctioning of a system is directed. Suffice it to say then that the meaning of a statementattributing a “goal” to such a process would require clarification. No doubt, science producescertain outcomes and some of these outcomes are goals of individual scientists and researchteams; but it does not necessary follow that science must be defined in terms of movementtowards the goal. As rightly confirmed by Richter; (1972:14)
 It is entirely possible that the most significant aspect of science involve movement, over along time span, in direction which have not been intended or recognized by scientists generally, and which have emerge accidentally, even if there he has also been movement indirections which may be identified as corresponding to a “goal” of science
(iii) Even if science is defined as a process of moving toward a goal, it does not follows thatscience thereby becomes equivalent to a “method”. Rightly defined, a method is a processemployed deliberately in pursuit of goals. It refers to the specification of steps, which must betaken in a given order, to achieve a given end. As a function in scientific inquiry, “methodsare used within scientific inquires. “However, the concept of method cannot reasonably beapplied to some important types of event through which the findings of different inquiries areinterpreted and integrated by the scientific community as a whole. This is because the natureof the steps and the details of their specification depend on the end sough and the variety of ways of achieving it.We may thus argue here that the concepts of goals and method used as a quality of anyscientific endeavour can only be recognised as appropriately applicable at relativelymicroscopic levels. As Maurice Richter (ibid.) conclude on this matter that, when we seek instead to analyse science macroscopically, taking into account not merely what happenswithin particular research projects but also the integration of findings of many such projectsin different disciplines over centuries, the concepts of goal and method appear to lose their relevance. The method of science therefore vary according to whether its end is taken to be

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