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Lecture NotePhilosophy of science
Alloy S Ihuah PhD
philosophy of science
, a sub-branch of epistemology. It is the branch of 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.”