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Philosophy of science is a branch of
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science. This discipline overlaps with
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

metaphysics
,
ontology Ontology is the branch of philosophy that studies concepts such as existence, being, Becoming (philosophy), becoming, and reality. It includes the questions of how entities are grouped into Category of being, basic categories and which of these ...

ontology
, and
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemology), justification, the Reason, rationality o ...

epistemology
, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and
truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact A fact is something that is true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In ...

truth
. Philosophy of science focuses on metaphysical, epistemic and semantic aspects of science. Ethical issues such as
bioethics Bioethics is the study of the ethics, ethical issues emerging from advances in biology and medicine. It is also moral discernment as it relates to medical policy and practice. Bioethics are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the r ...
and
scientific misconduct Scientific misconduct is the violation of the standard codes of scholarly conduct and ethical behavior in the publication of professional A professional is a member of a profession or any person who earns their living from a specified profess ...
are often considered
ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...

ethics
or
science studies Science studies is an interdisciplinarity, interdisciplinary research area that seeks to situate scientific expertise in broad social, historical, and philosophical contexts. It uses various methods to analyze the production, representation and ...
rather than philosophy of science. There is no consensus among philosophers about many of the central problems concerned with the philosophy of science, including whether science can reveal the truth about unobservable things and whether scientific reasoning can be justified at all. In addition to these general questions about science as a whole, philosophers of science consider problems that apply to particular sciences (such as
biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechanisms, Development ...
or
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...
). Some philosophers of science also use contemporary results in science to reach conclusions about philosophy itself. While philosophical thought pertaining to science dates back at least to the time of
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
, general philosophy of science emerged as a distinct discipline only in the 20th century in the wake of the
logical positivist Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western worl ...
movement, which aimed to formulate criteria for ensuring all philosophical statements' meaningfulness and objectively assessing them.
Charles Sanders Peirce Charles Sanders Peirce ( ; September 10, 1839 – April 19, 1914) was an American philosopher, ian, mathematician and scientist who is sometimes known as "the father of ". He was known as a somewhat unusual character. Educated as a chemist an ...

Charles Sanders Peirce
and
Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as tho ...

Karl Popper
moved on from positivism to establish a modern set of standards for scientific methodology.
Thomas Kuhn Thomas Samuel Kuhn (; July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American whose 1962 book ' was influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term ', which has since become an English-language idiom. Kuhn made several cla ...
's 1962 book ''
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ''The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'' (1962; second edition 1970; third edition 1996; fourth edition 2012) is a book about the history of science The history of science covers the development of science Science (from the Latin wo ...
'' was also formative, challenging the view of
scientific progress upright=1.14, alt=Painting depicting a woman draped in white robes flying westward across the land with settlers and following her on foot, John Gast, ''American Progress'', Progress is the movement towards a refined, improved, or otherwise de ...
as steady, cumulative acquisition of knowledge based on a fixed method of systematic experimentation and instead arguing that any progress is relative to a "
paradigm In science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as ...
", the set of questions, concepts, and practices that define a scientific discipline in a particular historical period. Subsequently, the
coherentist In philosophy, philosophical epistemology, there are two types of coherentism: the coherence theory of truth; and the coherence theory of justification (also known as epistemic coherentism). Coherent truth is divided between an anthropological app ...
approach to science, in which a theory is validated if it makes sense of observations as part of a coherent whole, became prominent due to
W.V. Quine West Virginia () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspa ...
and others. Some thinkers such as
Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould (; September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American Paleontology, paleontologist, Evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologist, and History of science, historian of science. He was one of the most influential and widely read ...
seek to ground science in
axiomatic An axiom, postulate or assumption is a statement that is taken to be true True most commonly refers to truth Truth is the property of being in accord with fact or reality.Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionarytruth 2005 In everyday language ...
assumptions, such as the
uniformity of nature Uniformitarianism, also known as the Doctrine of Uniformity or the Uniformitarian Principle, is the assumption that the same natural laws and processes that operate in our present-day scientific observations have always operated in the universe in ...
. A vocal minority of philosophers, and
Paul Feyerabend Paul Karl Feyerabend (; ; January 13, 1924 – February 11, 1994) was an Austria Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked country in the southern part of Central Europe, located on the Eastern Alps. It is compose ...
in particular, argue that there is no such thing as the "
scientific method The scientific method is an empirical Empirical evidence for a proposition is evidence, i.e. what supports or counters this proposition, that is constituted by or accessible to sense experience or experimental procedure. Empirical evidence ...

scientific method
", so all approaches to science should be allowed, including explicitly
supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena or entities that are not subject to the Scientific law, laws of nature. This term is attributed to non-physical entity, non-physical entities, such as angels, demons, gods, and ghost, spirits. It ...

supernatural
ones. Another approach to thinking about science involves studying how knowledge is created from a
sociological Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. The term was formerl ...
perspective, an approach represented by scholars like
David Bloor David Bloor (; born 1942) is a British sociologist. He is a professor in, and a former director of, the Science Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh , latin_name = Universitas Academica Edinburgensis , image_name = University of Edinb ...
and Barry Barnes. Finally, a tradition in
continental philosophy Continental philosophy is a set of 19th- and 20th-century philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, existence, knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity, awarenes ...
approaches science from the perspective of a rigorous analysis of human experience. Philosophies of the particular sciences range from questions about the nature of
time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...
raised by Einstein's
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...
, to the implications of
economics Economics () is a social science that studies the Production (economics), production, distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics), consumption of goods and services. Economics focuses on the behaviour and interact ...
for
public policy Public policy is an institutionalized proposal to solve relevant and real-world problems, guided by a conception and implemented by programs as a course of action created and/or enacted, typically by a government A government is th ...
. A central theme is whether the terms of one scientific theory can be intra- or intertheoretically reduced to the terms of another. That is, can chemistry be reduced to physics, or can sociology be reduced to individual
psychology Psychology is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. ...
? The general questions of philosophy of science also arise with greater specificity in some particular sciences. For instance, the question of the validity of scientific reasoning is seen in a different guise in the
foundations of statisticsThe foundations of statistics concern the epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epis ...
. The question of what counts as science and what should be excluded arises as a life-or-death matter in the
philosophy of medicine The philosophy of medicine is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, ...
. Additionally, the philosophies of biology, of psychology, and of the
social sciences Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biol ...
explore whether the scientific studies of
human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British ...

human nature
can achieve objectivity or are inevitably shaped by
values In ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy ...
and by social relations.


Introduction


Defining science

Distinguishing between science and
non-science A non-science is an area of study that is not scientific, especially one that is not a natural science or a social science that is an object of scientific inquiry. In this model, history, art, and religion are all examples of non-sciences. Class ...
is referred to as the demarcation problem. For example, should
psychoanalysis Psychoanalysis (from Greek language, Greek: + ) is a set of Theory, theories and Therapy, therapeutic techniques"What is psychoanalysis? Of course, one is supposed to answer that it is many things — a theory, a research method, a therapy, a bo ...

psychoanalysis
,
creation science Creation science or scientific creationism is a pseudoscientific Pseudoscience consists of statements, beliefs, or practices that claim to be both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method. Pseudoscience is o ...
, and
historical materialism Historical materialism is a Historical method, methodology to understand human societies and their development throughout history, arguing that historical changes in social structure are ultimately driven by the struggles and conflicts unleashe ...
be considered pseudosciences?
Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as tho ...

Karl Popper
called this the central question in the philosophy of science. However, no unified account of the problem has won acceptance among philosophers, and some regard the problem as unsolvable or uninteresting.
Martin Gardner Martin Gardner (October 21, 1914May 22, 2010) was an American popular mathematics Popular mathematics is mathematics, mathematical presentation aimed at a general audience. Sometimes this is in the form of books which require no mathematical bac ...
has argued for the use of a Potter Stewart standard ("I know it when I see it") for recognizing pseudoscience. Early attempts by the
logical positivists Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy Western philosophy refers to the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western worl ...
grounded science in observation while non-science was non-observational and hence meaningless. Popper argued that the central property of science is
falsifiability Falsifiability is a standard of evaluation of scientific theories and hypotheses that was introduced by the philosopher of science Karl Popper in his book The Logic of Scientific Discovery, ''Logik der Forschung'' (1934). He proposed it as the ...
. That is, every genuinely scientific claim is capable of being proven false, at least in principle. An area of study or speculation that masquerades as science in an attempt to claim a legitimacy that it would not otherwise be able to achieve is referred to as
pseudoscience Pseudoscience consists of statements, belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology include ...
,
fringe science Fringe science refers to ideas whose attributes include being highly speculative or relying on premises already refuted. Fringe science theories are often advanced by persons who have no traditional academic science background, or by researchers o ...
(though often times a fringe science becomes mainstream, even developing into a
Paradigm Shift A paradigm shift, a concept identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn Thomas Samuel Kuhn (; July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American philosopher of science whose 1962 book '' The Structure of Scientific Revo ...
), or
junk science The expression junk science is used to describe scientific data, research, or analysis considered by the person using the phrase to be wikt:spurious, spurious or fraudulent. The concept is often invoked in political and legal contexts where facts ...
. Physicist
Richard Feynman Richard Phillips Feynman (; May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988) was an American theoretical physicist, known for his work in the path integral formulation The path integral formulation is a description in quantum mechanics Quantum mech ...

Richard Feynman
coined the term "
cargo cult science Cargo cult science is a form of pseudoscience in which an imagined hypothesis is offered after the fact for some observed phenomenon, and further occurrences of the phenomenon are deemed to be proof of the hypothesis. It can be paraphrased as, "It ...
" for cases in which researchers believe they are doing science because their activities have the outward appearance of it but actually lack the "kind of utter honesty" that allows their results to be rigorously evaluated.
model. It says that a successful scientific explanation must deduce the occurrence of the phenomena in question from a
scientific law Scientific laws or laws of science are statements, based on repeated experiments or observations, that describe or predict a range of natural phenomena. The term ''law'' has diverse usage in many cases (approximate, accurate, broad, or narrow) ...
. This view has been subjected to substantial criticism, resulting in several widely acknowledged counterexamples to the theory. It is especially challenging to characterize what is meant by an explanation when the thing to be explained cannot be deduced from any law because it is a matter of chance, or otherwise cannot be perfectly predicted from what is known. Wesley Salmon developed a model in which a good scientific explanation must be statistically relevant to the outcome to be explained. Others have argued that the key to a good explanation is unifying disparate phenomena or providing a causal mechanism.


Justifying science

Although it is often taken for granted, it is not at all clear how one can infer the validity of a general statement from a number of specific instances or infer the truth of a theory from a series of successful tests. For example, a chicken observes that each morning the farmer comes and gives it food, for hundreds of days in a row. The chicken may therefore use
inductive reasoning Inductive reasoning is a method of reasoning Reason is the capacity of Consciousness, consciously making sense of things, applying logic, and adapting or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information. It ...
to infer that the farmer will bring food ''every'' morning. However, one morning, the farmer comes and kills the chicken. How is scientific reasoning more trustworthy than the chicken's reasoning? One approach is to acknowledge that induction cannot achieve certainty, but observing more instances of a general statement can at least make the general statement more
probable Probability is the branch of mathematics concerning numerical descriptions of how likely an Event (probability theory), event is to occur, or how likely it is that a proposition is true. The probability of an event is a number between 0 and ...

probable
. So the chicken would be right to conclude from all those mornings that it is likely the farmer will come with food again the next morning, even if it cannot be certain. However, there remain difficult questions about the process of interpreting any given evidence into a probability that the general statement is true. One way out of these particular difficulties is to declare that all beliefs about scientific theories are
subjective Subjective may refer to: * Subjectivity, a subject's personal perspective, feelings, beliefs, desires or discovery, as opposed to those made from an independent, objective, point of view ** Subjective experience, the subjective quality of consciou ...
, or personal, and correct reasoning is merely about how evidence should change one's subjective beliefs over time. Some argue that what scientists do is not inductive reasoning at all but rather
abductive reasoning Abductive reasoning (also called abduction,For example: abductive inference, or retroduction) is a form of logical inference Inferences are steps in reasoning, moving from premises to logical consequences; etymologically, the word ''wikt:inf ...
, or inference to the best explanation. In this account, science is not about generalizing specific instances but rather about hypothesizing explanations for what is observed. As discussed in the previous section, it is not always clear what is meant by the "best explanation". , which counsels choosing the available explanation, thus plays an important role in some versions of this approach. To return to the example of the chicken, would it be simpler to suppose that the farmer cares about it and will continue taking care of it indefinitely or that the farmer is fattening it up for slaughter? Philosophers have tried to make this
heuristic A heuristic (; ), or heuristic technique, is any approach to problem solving or self-discovery that employs a practical method that is not guaranteed to be Mathematical optimisation, optimal, perfect, or Rationality, rational, but is nevertheless ...
principle more precise in terms of theoretical parsimony or other measures. Yet, although various measures of simplicity have been brought forward as potential candidates, it is generally accepted that there is no such thing as a theory-independent measure of simplicity. In other words, there appear to be as many different measures of simplicity as there are theories themselves, and the task of choosing between measures of simplicity appears to be every bit as problematic as the job of choosing between theories. Nicholas Maxwell has argued for some decades that unity rather than simplicity is the key non-empirical factor in influencing choice of theory in science, persistent preference for unified theories in effect committing science to the acceptance of a metaphysical thesis concerning unity in nature. In order to improve this problematic thesis, it needs to be represented in the form of a hierarchy of theses, each thesis becoming more insubstantial as one goes up the hierarchy.


Observation inseparable from theory

When making observations, scientists look through telescopes, study images on electronic screens, record meter readings, and so on. Generally, on a basic level, they can agree on what they see, e.g., the thermometer shows 37.9 degrees C. But, if these scientists have different ideas about the theories that have been developed to explain these basic observations, they may disagree about what they are observing. For example, before
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity The theo ...

Albert Einstein
's
general theory of relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the differential geometry, geometric scientific theory, theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in modern ph ...
, observers would have likely interpreted an image of the as five different objects in space. In light of that theory, however, astronomers will tell you that there are actually only two objects, one in the center and of a second object around the sides. Alternatively, if other scientists suspect that something is wrong with the telescope and only one object is actually being observed, they are operating under yet another theory. Observations that cannot be separated from theoretical interpretation are said to be theory-laden. All observation involves both
perception Perception (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" o ...
and
cognition Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual function Intellectual functioning refers to the "general men ...
. That is, one does not make an observation passively, but rather is actively engaged in distinguishing the phenomenon being observed from surrounding sensory data. Therefore, observations are affected by one's underlying understanding of the way in which the world functions, and that understanding may influence what is perceived, noticed, or deemed worthy of consideration. In this sense, it can be argued that all observation is theory-laden.


The purpose of science

Should science aim to determine ultimate truth, or are there questions that science cannot answer? ''Scientific realists'' claim that science aims at truth and that one ought to regard
scientific theories A scientific theory is an explanation of an aspect of the natural science, natural world and universe that can be reproducibility, repeatedly tested and verified in accordance with the scientific method, using accepted protocol (science), protocol ...
as true, approximately true, or likely true. Conversely, ''scientific anti-realists'' argue that science does not aim (or at least does not succeed) at truth, especially truth about
unobservableAn unobservable (also called impalpable) is an entity whose existence, nature, properties, qualities or relations are not directly observable by humans. In philosophy of science Philosophy of science is a branch of philosophy concerned with th ...
s like electrons or other universes. Instrumentalists argue that scientific theories should only be evaluated on whether they are useful. In their view, whether theories are true or not is beside the point, because the purpose of science is to make predictions and enable effective technology. Realists often point to the success of recent scientific theories as evidence for the truth (or near truth) of current theories. Antirealists point to either the many false theories in the
history of science The history of science covers the development of science Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in the form of ...

history of science
, epistemic morals, the success of false
modeling In general, a model is an informative representation of an object, person or system. The term originally denoted the plans of a building in late 16th-century English, and derived via French and Italian ultimately from Latin ''modulus'', a measure. ...
assumptions, or widely termed
postmodern Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of skepticism Skepticism (American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known a ...
criticisms of objectivity as evidence against scientific realism. Antirealists attempt to explain the success of scientific theories without reference to truth. Some antirealists claim that scientific theories aim at being accurate only about observable objects and argue that their success is primarily judged by that criterion.


Values and science

Values intersect with science in different ways. There are epistemic values that mainly guide the scientific research. The scientific enterprise is embedded in particular culture and values through individual practitioners. Values emerge from science, both as product and process and can be distributed among several cultures in the society. If it is unclear what counts as science, how the process of confirming theories works, and what the purpose of science is, there is considerable scope for values and other social influences to shape science. Indeed,
values In ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy ...
can play a role ranging from determining which research gets funded to influencing which theories achieve scientific consensus. For example, in the 19th century, cultural values held by scientists about race shaped research on
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
, and values concerning
social class A social class is a set of concepts in the social sciences Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those soc ...
influenced debates on
phrenology Phrenology () is a pseudoscience which involves the measurement of bumps on the skull to predict mental traits.Wihe, J. V. (2002). "Science and Pseudoscience: A Primer in Critical Thinking." In ''Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience'', pp. 195-203. Cal ...

phrenology
(considered scientific at the time). Feminist philosophers of science, sociologists of science, and others explore how social values affect science.


History


Pre-modern

The origins of philosophy of science trace back to
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thought and the Platoni ...

Plato
and
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
who distinguished the forms of approximate and exact reasoning, set out the threefold scheme of abductive,
deductive Deductive reasoning, also deductive logic, is the process of reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making ...
, and inductive inference, and also analyzed reasoning by
analogy Analogy (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximate ...

analogy
. The eleventh century Arab polymath
Ibn al-Haytham Ḥasan Ibn al-Haytham (Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s and ...

Ibn al-Haytham
(known in Latin as
Alhazen Ḥasan Ibn al-Haytham (Latinization of names, Latinized as Alhazen ; full name ; ) was a Muslim Arab Mathematics in medieval Islam, mathematician, Astronomy in the medieval Islamic world, astronomer, and Physics in the medieval Islamic world, ...
) conducted his research in optics by way of controlled experimental testing and applied
geometry Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; ' "earth", ' "measurement") is, with , one of the oldest branches of . It is concerned with properties of space that are related with distance, shape, size, and relative position of figures. A mat ...

geometry
, especially in his investigations into the images resulting from the
reflectionReflection or reflexion may refer to: Philosophy * Self-reflection Science * Reflection (physics), a common wave phenomenon ** Specular reflection, reflection from a smooth surface *** Mirror image, a reflection in a mirror or in water ** Signal r ...
and
refraction In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force ...
of light.
Roger Bacon Roger Bacon (; la, Rogerus or ', also '' Rogerus''; ), also known by the scholastic accolade It was customary in the European Middle Ages, more precisely in the period of scholasticism which extended into early modern times, to designate th ...
(1214–1294), an English thinker and experimenter heavily influenced by al-Haytham, is recognized by many to be the father of modern scientific method. His view that mathematics was essential to a correct understanding of natural philosophy was considered to be 400 years ahead of its time.Clegg, Brian
"The First Scientist: A Life of Roger Bacon"
. Carroll and Graf Publishers, NY, 2003, p. 2.


Modern

Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General for England and Wales, Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of K ...

Francis Bacon
(no direct relation to Roger, who lived 300 years earlier) was a seminal figure in philosophy of science at the time of the
Scientific Revolution The Scientific Revolution was a series of events that marked the emergence In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, ...

Scientific Revolution
. In his work ''
Novum Organum The ''Novum Organum'', fully ''Novum Organum, sive Indicia Vera de Interpretatione Naturae'' ("New organon, or true directions concerning the interpretation of nature") or ''Instaurationis Magnae, Pars II'' ("Part II of The Great Instauration") ...

Novum Organum
'' (1620)an allusion to Aristotle's ''
Organon The ''Organon'' ( grc, Ὄργανον, meaning "instrument, tool, organ") is the standard collection of Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philos ...

Organon
''Bacon outlined a new
system of logic A formal system is used for inferring theorems from axioms according to a set of rules. These rules, which are used for carrying out the inference of theorems from axioms, are the logical calculus of the formal system. A formal system is essentiall ...
to improve upon the old philosophical process of
syllogism A syllogism ( grc-gre, συλλογισμός, ''syllogismos'', 'conclusion, inference') is a kind of logical argument In logic and philosophy, an argument is a series of statements (in a natural language), called the premises or premisses (bo ...
. Bacon's method relied on experimental ''histories'' to eliminate alternative theories. In 1637,
René Descartes René Descartes ( or ; ; Latinized Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920s ...

René Descartes
established a new framework for grounding scientific knowledge in his treatise, ''
Discourse on Method ''Discourse on the Method of Rightly Conducting One's Reason and of Seeking Truth in the Sciences'' (french: Discours de la Méthode Pour bien conduire sa raison, et chercher la vérité dans les sciences) is a philosophical Philosophy (fr ...
'', advocating the central role of
reason Reason is the capacity of consciously applying logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek ...
as opposed to sensory experience. By contrast, in 1713, the 2nd edition of
Isaac Newton Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics a ...

Isaac Newton
's ''
Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existen ...
'' argued that "... hypotheses ... have no place in experimental philosophy. In this philosophy propositions are deduced from the phenomena and rendered general by induction." This passage influenced a "later generation of philosophically-inclined readers to pronounce a ban on causal hypotheses in natural philosophy". In particular, later in the 18th century,
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
would famously articulate
skepticism Skepticism (American American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U. ...

skepticism
about the ability of science to determine
causality Causality (also referred to as causation, or cause and effect) is influence by which one Event (relativity), event, process, state or object (a ''cause'') contributes to the production of another event, process, state or object (an ''effect'') ...
and gave a definitive formulation of the
problem of induction The problem of induction is the philosophy, philosophical question of what are the Argument, justifications, if any, for any growth of knowledge understood in the Justified true belief, classic philosophical sense—knowledge that goes beyond ...
. The 19th century writings of
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873), also cited as J. S. Mill, was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most i ...
are also considered important in the formation of current conceptions of the scientific method, as well as anticipating later accounts of scientific explanation.


Logical positivism

Instrumentalism In philosophy of science and in epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemolog ...
became popular among physicists around the turn of the 20th century, after which logical positivism defined the field for several decades. Logical positivism accepts only testable statements as meaningful, rejects metaphysical interpretations, and embraces
verificationism Verificationism, also known as the verification principle or the verifiability criterion of meaning, is the philosophical doctrine which maintains that only statements that are empirically verifiable (i.e. verifiable through the sense Sense relate ...
(a set of that combines
logicism In the philosophy of mathematics The philosophy of mathematics is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is ...
,
empiricism In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, l ...
, and
linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo ...

linguistics
to ground philosophy on a basis consistent with examples from the
empirical sciences Science (from the Latin word ''scientia'', meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and Taxonomy (general), organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the u ...
). Seeking to overhaul all of philosophy and convert it to a new ''scientific philosophy'',Michael Friedman, ''Reconsidering Logical Positivism'' (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1999)
p. xiv
.
the
Berlin Circle The Berlin Circle (german: die Berliner Gruppe) was a group that maintained logical empiricist Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy wh ...
and the
Vienna Circle The Vienna Circle (german: Wiener Kreis) of Logical Empiricism was a group of philosophers and scientists drawn from the Natural science, natural and Social Sciences, social sciences, logic and mathematics who met regularly from 1924 to 1936 at th ...
propounded logical positivism in the late 1920s. Interpreting
Ludwig Wittgenstein Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( ; ; 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian Austrian may refer to: * Austrians, someone from Austria or of Austrian descent ** Someone who is considered an Austrian citizen, see Austrian nationali ...

Ludwig Wittgenstein
's early
philosophy of language In analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, ...
, logical positivists identified a verifiability principle or criterion of cognitive meaningfulness. From
Bertrand Russell Bertrand Arthur William Russell, 3rd Earl Russell (18 May 1872 – 2 February 1970) was a British polymath A polymath ( el, πολυμαθής, , "having learned much"; la, homo universalis, "universal human") is an individual whose know ...
's logicism they sought reduction of mathematics to logic. They also embraced Russell's
logical atomism Logical atomism is a philosophical view that originated in the early 20th century with the development of analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fu ...
,
Ernst Mach Ernst Waldfried Josef Wenzel Mach (; ; 18 February 1838 – 19 February 1916) was an Austrian physicist and philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , t ...

Ernst Mach
's
phenomenalism Phenomenalism is the view that physical objects cannot justifiably be said to exist in themselves, but only as perceptual phenomena or sensory stimuli (e.g. redness, hardness, softness, sweetness, etc.) situated in time and in space. In particular ...
—whereby the mind knows only actual or potential sensory experience, which is the content of all sciences, whether physics or psychology—and
Percy Bridgman The English surname Percy, first taken by the House of Percy File:Modern arms of Percy.svg, 200px, Arms of Percy ''modern'': ''Or, a lion rampant azure'', as shown on the seal of Henry de Percy, 1st Baron Percy (d.1314) affixed to the Barons' ...
's
operationalism In research design, especially in psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of consciousness, conscious and Unconscious mind, unconscious phenomena, as well as feeling and thought. It is an ac ...
. Thereby, only the ''verifiable'' was scientific and ''cognitively meaningful'', whereas the unverifiable was unscientific, cognitively meaningless "pseudostatements"—metaphysical, emotive, or such—not worthy of further review by philosophers, who were newly tasked to organize knowledge rather than develop new knowledge. Logical positivism is commonly portrayed as taking the extreme position that scientific language should never refer to anything unobservable—even the seemingly core notions of causality, mechanism, and principles—but that is an exaggeration. Talk of such unobservables could be allowed as metaphorical—direct observations viewed in the abstract—or at worst metaphysical or emotional. ''Theoretical laws'' would be reduced to ''empirical laws'', while ''theoretical terms'' would garner meaning from ''observational terms'' via ''correspondence rules''. Mathematics in physics would reduce to
symbolic logic Mathematical logic, also called formal logic, is a subfield of mathematics exploring the formal applications of logic to mathematics. It bears close connections to metamathematics, the foundations of mathematics, and theoretical computer science. ...
via logicism, while
rational reconstruction Rational reconstruction is a philosophy, philosophical term with several distinct meanings. It is found in the work of Jürgen Habermas and Imre Lakatos. Habermas For Habermas, rational reconstruction is a philosophy, philosophical and linguist ...
would convert
ordinary language Ordinary language philosophy is a philosophical methodology Philosophical method (or philosophical methodology) is the study of how to do philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those ...
into standardized equivalents, all networked and united by a logical syntax. A scientific theory would be stated with its method of verification, whereby a logical calculus or empirical operation could verify its falsity or truth. In the late 1930s, logical positivists fled Germany and Austria for Britain and America. By then, many had replaced Mach's phenomenalism with
Otto Neurath Otto Karl Wilhelm Neurath (; 10 December 1882 – 22 December 1945) was an Austria Austria (, ; german: Österreich ), officially the Republic of Austria (german: Republik Österreich, links=no, ), is a landlocked Eastern Alps, East Alp ...

Otto Neurath
's
physicalism In philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is ...
, and
Rudolf Carnap Rudolf Carnap (; ; 18 May 1891 – 14 September 1970) was a German-language philosopher who was active in Europe before 1935 and in the United States thereafter. He was a major member of the Vienna Circle The Vienna Circle (german: Wiener Krei ...
had sought to replace ''verification'' with simply ''confirmation''. With
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
's close in 1945, logical positivism became milder, ''logical empiricism'', led largely by
Carl Hempel Carl Gustav "Peter" Hempel (January 8, 1905 – November 9, 1997) was a German writer A writer is a person who uses written words in different styles and techniques to communicate ideas. Writers produce different forms of literary art a ...
, in America, who expounded the covering law model of scientific explanation as a way of identifying the logical form of explanations without any reference to the suspect notion of "causation". The logical positivist movement became a major underpinning of
analytic philosophy Analytic philosophy is a branch and tradition of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical reality ...
,Se
"Vienna Circle"
in ''Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy''.
and dominated
Anglosphere The Anglosphere is a group of English-speaking nations that share common cultural and historical ties to the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, ...
philosophy, including philosophy of science, while influencing sciences, into the 1960s. Yet the movement failed to resolve its central problems, and its doctrines were increasingly assaulted. Nevertheless, it brought about the establishment of philosophy of science as a distinct subdiscipline of philosophy, with Carl Hempel playing a key role.Friedman, ''Reconsidering Logical Positivism'' (Cambridge U P, 1999)
p. xii
.


Thomas Kuhn

In the 1962 book ''
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ''The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'' (1962; second edition 1970; third edition 1996; fourth edition 2012) is a book about the history of science The history of science covers the development of science Science (from the Latin wo ...
'',
Thomas Kuhn Thomas Samuel Kuhn (; July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American whose 1962 book ' was influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term ', which has since become an English-language idiom. Kuhn made several cla ...
argued that the process of observation and evaluation takes place within a paradigm, a
logically consistent In classical logic, classical deductive logic, a consistent theory (mathematical logic), theory is one that does not entail a contradiction. The lack of contradiction can be defined in either semantic or syntactic terms. The semantic definition s ...
"portrait" of the world that is consistent with observations made from its framing. A paradigm also encompasses the set of questions and practices that define a scientific discipline. He characterized ''normal science'' as the process of observation and "puzzle solving" which takes place within a paradigm, whereas ''revolutionary science'' occurs when one paradigm overtakes another in a
paradigm shift A paradigm shift, a concept identified by the American physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn Thomas Samuel Kuhn (; July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American philosopher of science whose 1962 book '' The Structure of Scientific Revo ...
. Kuhn denied that it is ever possible to isolate the hypothesis being tested from the influence of the theory in which the observations are grounded, and he argued that it is not possible to evaluate competing paradigms independently. More than one logically consistent construct can paint a usable likeness of the world, but there is no common ground from which to pit two against each other, theory against theory. Each paradigm has its own distinct questions, aims, and interpretations. Neither provides a standard by which the other can be judged, so there is no clear way to measure
scientific progress upright=1.14, alt=Painting depicting a woman draped in white robes flying westward across the land with settlers and following her on foot, John Gast, ''American Progress'', Progress is the movement towards a refined, improved, or otherwise de ...
across paradigms. For Kuhn, the choice of paradigm was sustained by rational processes, but not ultimately determined by them. The choice between paradigms involves setting two or more "portraits" against the world and deciding which likeness is most promising. For Kuhn, acceptance or rejection of a paradigm is a social process as much as a logical process. Kuhn's position, however, is not one of
relativism Relativism is a family of philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality ...
.T.S. Kuhn, ''The Structure of Scientific Revolutions'', 2nd. ed., Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Pr., 1970, p. 206. According to Kuhn, a paradigm shift occurs when a significant number of observational anomalies arise in the old paradigm and a new paradigm makes sense of them. That is, the choice of a new paradigm is based on observations, even though those observations are made against the background of the old paradigm.


Current approaches


Naturalism's axiomatic assumptions

All scientific study inescapably builds on at least some essential assumptions that are untested by scientific processes. Kuhn concurs that all science is based on an approved agenda of unprovable assumptions about the character of the universe, rather than merely on empirical facts. These assumptions—a paradigm—comprise a collection of beliefs, values and techniques that are held by a given scientific community, which legitimize their systems and set the limitations to their investigation. For naturalists, nature is the only reality, the only paradigm. There is no such thing as 'supernatural'. The scientific method is to be used to investigate all reality, and Naturalism is the implicit philosophy of working scientists. The following basic assumptions are needed to justify the scientific method. # ''that there is an objective reality shared by all rational observers''. "The basis for rationality is acceptance of an external objective reality.". "As an individual we cannot know that the sensory information we perceive is generated artificially or originates from a real world. Any belief that it arises from a real world outside us is actually an assumption. It seems more beneficial to assume that an objective reality exists than to live with solipsism, and so people are quite happy to make this assumption. In fact we made this assumption unconsciously when we began to learn about the world as infants. The world outside ourselves appears to respond in ways which are consistent with it being real. ... The assumption of objectivism is essential if we are to attach the contemporary meanings to our sensations and feelings and make more sense of them." "Without this assumption, there would be only the thoughts and images in our own mind (which would be the only existing mind) and there would be no need of science, or anything else." # ''that this objective reality is governed by natural laws''. "Science, at least today, assumes that the universe obeys to knoweable principles that don't depend on time or place, nor on subjective parameters such as what we think, know or how we behave." Hugh Gauch argues that science presupposes that "the physical world is orderly and comprehensible." # ''that reality can be discovered by means of systematic observation and experimentation.'' Stanley Sobottka said, "The assumption of external reality is necessary for science to function and to flourish. For the most part, science is the discovering and explaining of the external world." "Science attempts to produce knowledge that is as universal and objective as possible within the realm of human understanding." # ''that Nature has uniformity of laws and most if not all things in nature must have at least a natural cause.'' Biologist
Stephen Jay Gould Stephen Jay Gould (; September 10, 1941 – May 20, 2002) was an American Paleontology, paleontologist, Evolutionary biology, evolutionary biologist, and History of science, historian of science. He was one of the most influential and widely read ...
referred to these two closely related propositions as the constancy of nature's laws and the operation of known processes. Simpson agrees that the axiom of uniformity of law, an unprovable postulate, is necessary in order for scientists to extrapolate inductive inference into the unobservable past in order to meaningfully study it. # ''that experimental procedures will be done satisfactorily without any deliberate or unintentional mistakes that will influence the results''. # ''that experimenters won't be significantly biased by their presumptions.'' # ''that random sampling is representative of the entire population.'' A simple random sample (SRS) is the most basic probabilistic option used for creating a sample from a population. The benefit of SRS is that the investigator is guaranteed to choose a sample that represents the population that ensures statistically valid conclusions.


Coherentism

In contrast to the view that science rests on foundational assumptions, coherentism asserts that statements are justified by being a part of a coherent system. Or, rather, individual statements cannot be validated on their own: only coherent systems can be justified. A prediction of a
transit of Venus A transit of Venus across the Sun takes place when the planet Venus passes directly between the Sun and a inferior and superior planets, superior planet, becoming visible against (and hence obscuring a small portion of) the solar disk. During ...

transit of Venus
is justified by its being coherent with broader beliefs about celestial mechanics and earlier observations. As explained above, observation is a cognitive act. That is, it relies on a pre-existing understanding, a systematic set of beliefs. An observation of a transit of Venus requires a huge range of auxiliary beliefs, such as those that describe the
optics Optics is the branch of physics that studies the behaviour and properties of light, including its interactions with matter and the construction of optical instruments, instruments that use or Photodetector, detect it. Optics usually describes t ...

optics
of telescopes, the
mechanics Mechanics (Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximat ...

mechanics
of the telescope mount, and an understanding of
celestial mechanics Celestial mechanics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the motion (physics), motions of celestial object, objects in outer space. Historically, celestial mechanics applies principles of physics (classical mechanics) to astronomical obje ...
. If the prediction fails and a transit is not observed, that is likely to occasion an adjustment in the system, a change in some auxiliary assumption, rather than a rejection of the theoretical system. In fact, according to the Duhem–Quine thesis, after
Pierre Duhem Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem (; 9 June 1861 – 14 September 1916) was a French theoretical physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches ...

Pierre Duhem
and
W.V. Quine West Virginia () is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspaper), a daily newspa ...
, it is impossible to test a theory in isolation. One must always add auxiliary hypotheses in order to make testable predictions. For example, to test
Newton's Law of Gravitation Newton's law of universal gravitation is usually stated as that every particle In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can ...
in the solar system, one needs information about the masses and positions of the Sun and all the planets. Famously, the failure to predict the orbit of
Uranus Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. Its name is a reference to the Greek god of the sky, Uranus, who, according to Greek mythology Greek mythology is the body of myths originally told by the Ancient Greece, ancient Greeks, and ...

Uranus
in the 19th century led not to the rejection of Newton's Law but rather to the rejection of the hypothesis that the solar system comprises only seven planets. The investigations that followed led to the discovery of an eighth planet,
Neptune Neptune is the eighth and farthest-known Solar planet from the Sun. In the Solar System, it is the fourth-largest planet by diameter, the third-most-massive planet, and the densest giant planet. It is 17 times the mass of Earth, slightly mo ...

Neptune
. If a test fails, something is wrong. But there is a problem in figuring out what that something is: a missing planet, badly calibrated test equipment, an unsuspected curvature of space, or something else. One consequence of the Duhem–Quine thesis is that one can make any theory compatible with any empirical observation by the addition of a sufficient number of suitable ''ad hoc'' hypotheses.
Karl Popper Sir Karl Raimund Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian-British philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as tho ...

Karl Popper
accepted this thesis, leading him to reject naïve falsification. Instead, he favored a "survival of the fittest" view in which the most falsifiable scientific theories are to be preferred.


Anything goes methodology

Paul Feyerabend Paul Karl Feyerabend (; ; January 13, 1924 – February 11, 1994) was an Austria Austria, officially the Republic of Austria, is a landlocked country in the southern part of Central Europe, located on the Eastern Alps. It is compose ...
(1924–1994) argued that no description of scientific method could possibly be broad enough to include all the approaches and methods used by scientists, and that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science. He argued that "the only principle that does not inhibit progress is: ''anything goes''".Paul Feyerabend, ''Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge'' (1975), Feyerabend said that science started as a liberating movement, but that over time it had become increasingly dogmatic and rigid and had some oppressive features, and thus had become increasingly an
ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of ...
. Because of this, he said it was impossible to come up with an unambiguous way to distinguish science from
religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and whether the exchange is voluntary/involuntary. Etymology ...

religion
,
magic Magic or Magick may refer to: * Ceremonial magic, encompasses a wide variety of rituals of magic * Chaos magic#REDIRECT Chaos magic {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from miscapitalization {{R unprintworthy ..., a contemporary magical practic ...
, or
mythology Myth is a folklore genre Folklore is the expressive body of culture shared by a particular group of people; it encompasses the tradition A tradition is a belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the ca ...

mythology
. He saw the exclusive dominance of science as a means of directing society as
authoritarian Authoritarianism is a form of government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a mon ...
and ungrounded. Promulgation of this epistemological anarchism earned Feyerabend the title of "the worst enemy of science" from his detractors.


Sociology of scientific knowledge methodology

According to Kuhn, science is an inherently communal activity which can only be done as part of a community. For him, the fundamental difference between science and other disciplines is the way in which the communities function. Others, especially Feyerabend and some post-modernist thinkers, have argued that there is insufficient difference between social practices in science and other disciplines to maintain this distinction. For them, social factors play an important and direct role in scientific method, but they do not serve to differentiate science from other disciplines. On this account, science is socially constructed, though this does not necessarily imply the more radical notion that reality itself is a
social construct Social constructionism is a theory of knowledge Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epist ...
. However, some (such as Quine) do maintain that scientific reality is a social construct:
Physical objects are conceptually imported into the situation as convenient intermediaries not by definition in terms of experience, but simply as irreducible posits comparable, epistemologically, to the gods of Homer ... For my part I do, qua lay physicist, believe in physical objects and not in Homer's gods; and I consider it a scientific error to believe otherwise. But in point of epistemological footing, the physical objects and the gods differ only in degree and not in kind. Both sorts of entities enter our conceptions only as ''cultural posits''.
The public backlash of scientists against such views, particularly in the 1990s, became known as the
science warsThe science wars were a series of intellectual exchanges, between scientific realists and postmodernist critics, about the nature of scientific theory and intellectual inquiry. They took place principally in the United States The United St ...
. A major development in recent decades has been the study of the formation, structure, and evolution of scientific communities by sociologists and anthropologists – including
David Bloor David Bloor (; born 1942) is a British sociologist. He is a professor in, and a former director of, the Science Studies Unit at the University of Edinburgh , latin_name = Universitas Academica Edinburgensis , image_name = University of Edinb ...
,
Harry Collins Harry Collins, (born 13 June 1943), is a British sociologist of science at the School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University, Wales. In 2012 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy The British Academy is the United Kingdom's nation ...
,
Bruno Latour Bruno Latour (; ; born 22 June 1947) is a French philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason ...

Bruno Latour
,
Ian Hacking Ian MacDougall Hacking (born February 18, 1936) is a Canadian Canadians (french: Canadiens) are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many (or al ...

Ian Hacking
and
Anselm Strauss Anselm Leonard Strauss (December 18, 1916 – September 5, 1996) was an American sociologist professor at the University of California, San Francisco ( UCSF) internationally known as a medical sociologist (especially for his pioneering attention ...
. Concepts and methods (such as rational choice, social choice or game theory) from economics have also been applied for understanding the efficiency of scientific communities in the production of knowledge. This interdisciplinary field has come to be known as science and technology studies. Here the approach to the philosophy of science is to study how scientific communities actually operate.


Continental philosophy

Philosophers in the continental philosophy, continental philosophical tradition are not traditionally categorized as philosophers of science. However, they have much to say about science, some of which has anticipated themes in the analytical tradition. For example, Friedrich Nietzsche advanced the thesis in his On the Genealogy of Morality, ''The Genealogy of Morals'' (1887) that the motive for the search for truth in sciences is a kind of ascetic ideal. In general, continental philosophy views science from a world history, world-historical perspective. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770-1831) became one of the first philosophers to support this view. Philosophers such as
Pierre Duhem Pierre Maurice Marie Duhem (; 9 June 1861 – 14 September 1916) was a French theoretical physicist A physicist is a scientist A scientist is a person who conducts Scientific method, scientific research to advance knowledge in an Branches ...

Pierre Duhem
(1861-1916) and Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) also wrote their works with this world-historical approach to science, predating Kuhn's 1962 work by a generation or more. All of these approaches involve a historical and sociological turn to science, with a priority on lived experience (a kind of Husserlian Lifeworld, "life-world"), rather than a progress-based or anti-historical approach as emphasised in the analytic tradition. One can trace this continental strand of thought through the Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology of Edmund Husserl (1859-1938), the late works of Maurice Merleau-Ponty, Merleau-Ponty (''Nature: Course Notes from the Collège de France'', 1956–1960), and the hermeneutics of Martin Heidegger (1889-1976).Gutting, Gary (2004), ''Continental Philosophy of Science'', Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, MA. The largest effect on the continental tradition with respect to science came from Martin Heidegger's critique of the present-at-hand, theoretical attitude in general, which of course includes the scientific attitude. For this reason, the continental tradition has remained much more skeptical of the importance of science in human life (disambiguation), human life and in philosophical inquiry. Nonetheless, there have been a number of important works: especially those of a Kuhnian precursor, Alexandre Koyré (1892-1964). Another important development was that of Michel Foucault's analysis of historical and scientific thought in ''The Order of Things'' (1966) and his study of power and corruption within the "science" of Insanity, madness. Post-Heideggerian authors contributing to continental philosophy of science in the second half of the 20th century include Jürgen Habermas (e.g., ''Truth and Justification'', 1998), Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker (''The Unity of Nature'', 1980; de , Die Einheit der Natur (1971)), and Wolfgang Stegmüller (''Probleme und Resultate der Wissenschaftstheorie und Analytischen Philosophie'', 1973–1986).


Other topics


Reductionism

Analysis involves breaking an observation or theory down into simpler concepts in order to understand it. Reductionism can refer to one of several philosophical positions related to this approach. One type of reductionism suggests that phenomena are amenable to scientific explanation at lower levels of analysis and inquiry. Perhaps a historical event might be explained in sociological and psychological terms, which in turn might be described in terms of human physiology, which in turn might be described in terms of chemistry and physics. Daniel Dennett distinguishes legitimate reductionism from what he calls ''greedy reductionism,'' which denies real complexities and leaps too quickly to sweeping generalizations.


Social accountability

A broad issue affecting the neutrality of science concerns the areas which science chooses to explore, that is, what part of the world and of humankind are studied by science. Philip Kitcher in his ''Science, Truth, and Democracy'' argues that scientific studies that attempt to show one segment of the population as being less intelligent, successful or emotionally backward compared to others have a political feedback effect which further excludes such groups from access to science. Thus such studies undermine the broad consensus required for good science by excluding certain people, and so proving themselves in the end to be unscientific.


Philosophy of particular sciences

In addition to addressing the general questions regarding science and induction, many philosophers of science are occupied by investigating foundational problems in particular sciences. They also examine the implications of particular sciences for broader philosophical questions. The late 20th and early 21st century has seen a rise in the number of practitioners of philosophy of a particular science.


Philosophy of statistics

The problem of induction discussed above is seen in another form in debates over the
foundations of statisticsThe foundations of statistics concern the epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epis ...
. The standard approach to statistical hypothesis testing avoids claims about whether evidence supports a hypothesis or makes it more probable. Instead, the typical test yields a p-value, which is the probability of the ''evidence'' being such as it is, under the assumption that the hypothesis being tested is true. If the ''p''-value is too low, the hypothesis is rejected, in a way analogous to falsification. In contrast, Bayesian inference seeks to assign probabilities to hypotheses. Related topics in philosophy of statistics include probability interpretations, overfitting, and the difference between Correlation does not imply causation, correlation and causation.


Philosophy of mathematics

Philosophy of mathematics is concerned with the philosophical foundations and implications of mathematics. The central questions are whether numbers, triangles, and other mathematical entities exist independently of the human mind and what is the nature of mathematical propositions. Is asking whether "1+1=2" is true fundamentally different from asking whether a ball is red? Was calculus invented or discovered? A related question is whether learning mathematics requires A priori and a posteriori, experience or reason alone. What does it mean to prove a mathematical theorem and how does one know whether a mathematical proof is correct? Philosophers of mathematics also aim to clarify the relationships between mathematics and logic, human capabilities such as Intuition (psychology), intuition, and the material universe.


Philosophy of physics

Philosophy of physics is the study of the fundamental, philosophy, philosophical questions underlying modern physics, the study of matter and energy and how they interaction, interact. The main questions concern the nature of Philosophy of space and time, space and time, atoms and atomism. Also included are the predictions of physical cosmology, cosmology, the interpretation of quantum mechanics, the foundations of statistical mechanics, causality (physics), causality, determinism, and the nature of physical laws. Classically, several of these questions were studied as part of
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

metaphysics
(for example, those about causality, determinism, and space and time).


Philosophy of chemistry

Philosophy of chemistry is the philosophical study of the methodology and content of the science of chemistry. It is explored by philosophers, chemists, and philosopher-chemist teams. It includes research on general philosophy of science issues as applied to chemistry. For example, can all chemical phenomena be explained by quantum mechanics or is it not possible to reduce chemistry to physics? For another example, chemists have discussed the philosophy of Philosophy of science#Confirmation of theories, how theories are confirmed in the context of confirming reaction mechanisms. Determining reaction mechanisms is difficult because they cannot be observed directly. Chemists can use a number of indirect measures as evidence to rule out certain mechanisms, but they are often unsure if the remaining mechanism is correct because there are many other possible mechanisms that they have not tested or even thought of. Philosophers have also sought to clarify the meaning of chemical concepts which do not refer to specific physical entities, such as chemical bonds.


Philosophy of astronomy

The philosophy of astronomy seeks to understand and analyze the methodologies and technologies utilized by experts in the discipline, focusing on how observations made about space and astrophysics, astrophysical phenomena can be studied. Given that astronomers rely and utilize theories and formulas from other scientific disciplines, such as chemistry and physics, the pursuit of understanding how knowledge can be obtained about the cosmos, as well as the relation in which our planet and Solar System have within our personal views of our place in the universe, philosophical insights into how facts about space can be scientifically analyzed and configure with other established knowledge is a main point of inquiry.


Philosophy of Earth sciences

The philosophy of Earth science is concerned with how humans obtain and verify knowledge of the workings of the Earth system, including the atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere (solid earth). Earth scientists’ ways of knowing and habits of mind share important commonalities with other sciences, but also have distinctive attributes that emerge from the complex, heterogeneous, unique, long-lived, and non-manipulatable nature of the Earth system.


Philosophy of biology

Philosophy of biology deals with epistemology, epistemological, metaphysics, metaphysical, and ethics, ethical issues in the Biology, biological and Medical research, biomedical sciences. Although philosophers of science and philosophers generally have long been interested in biology (e.g.,
Aristotle Aristotle (; grc-gre, Ἀριστοτέλης ''Aristotélēs'', ; 384–322 BC) was a Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questio ...

Aristotle
, Descartes, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Leibniz and even Immanuel Kant, Kant), philosophy of biology only emerged as an independent field of philosophy in the 1960s and 1970s. Philosophers of science began to pay increasing attention to developments in biology, from the rise of the Modern synthesis (20th century), modern synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s to the discovery of the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) in 1953 to more recent advances in genetic engineering. Other key ideas such as the Reduction (philosophy), reduction of all life processes to biochemical reactions as well as the incorporation of psychology into a broader neuroscience are also addressed. Research in current philosophy of biology includes investigation of the foundations of evolutionary theory (such as Peter Godfrey-Smith's work), and the role of viruses as persistent symbionts in host genomes. As a consequence, the evolution of genetic content order is seen as the result of competent genome editors in contrast to former narratives in which error replication events (mutations) dominated.


Philosophy of medicine

Beyond medical ethics and
bioethics Bioethics is the study of the ethics, ethical issues emerging from advances in biology and medicine. It is also moral discernment as it relates to medical policy and practice. Bioethics are concerned with the ethical questions that arise in the r ...
, the philosophy of medicine is a branch of philosophy that includes the
epistemology Epistemology (; ) is the Outline of philosophy, branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemologists study the nature, origin, and scope of knowledge, epistemic Justification (epistemology), justification, the Reason, rationality o ...

epistemology
and
ontology Ontology is the branch of philosophy that studies concepts such as existence, being, Becoming (philosophy), becoming, and reality. It includes the questions of how entities are grouped into Category of being, basic categories and which of these ...

ontology
/
metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that studies the first principles of being, identity and change, space and time, causality, necessity and possibility. It includes questions about the nature of consciousness and the relationship between ...

metaphysics
of medicine. Within the epistemology of medicine, evidence-based medicine (EBM) (or evidence-based practice (EBP)) has attracted attention, most notably the roles of randomisation, Blind experiment, blinding and placebo controls. Related to these areas of investigation, ontologies of specific interest to the philosophy of medicine include Cartesian dualism, the monogenetic conception of diseaseLee, K., 2012. ''The Philosophical Foundations of Modern Medicine'', London/New York, Palgrave/Macmillan. and the conceptualization of 'placebos' and 'placebo effects'.Nunn, R., 2009. It's time to put the placebo out of our misery" ''British Medical Journal'' 338, b1568. There is also a growing interest in the metaphysics of medicine, particularly the idea of causation. Philosophers of medicine might not only be interested in how medical knowledge is generated, but also in the nature of such phenomena. Causation is of interest because the purpose of much medical research is to establish causal relationships, e.g. what causes disease, or what causes people to get better.


Philosophy of psychiatry

Philosophy of psychiatry explores philosophical questions relating to psychiatry and mental illness. The philosopher of science and medicine Dominic Murphy identifies three areas of exploration in the philosophy of psychiatry. The first concerns the examination of psychiatry as a science, using the tools of the philosophy of science more broadly. The second entails the examination of the concepts employed in discussion of mental illness, including the experience of mental illness, and the normative questions it raises. The third area concerns the links and discontinuities between the philosophy of mind and psychopathology.


Philosophy of psychology

Philosophy of psychology refers to issues at the theoretical foundations of modern psychology. Some of these issues are epistemological concerns about the methodology of psychological investigation. For example, is the best method for studying psychology to focus only on the response of behaviorism, behavior to external stimuli or should psychologists focus on mentalism (psychology), mental perception and thought processes? If the latter, an important question is how the internal experiences of others can be measured. Self-reports of feelings and beliefs may not be reliable because, even in cases in which there is no apparent incentive for subjects to intentionally deceive in their answers, self-deception or selective memory may affect their responses. Then even in the case of accurate self-reports, how can responses be compared across individuals? Even if two individuals respond with the same answer on a Likert scale, they may be experiencing very different things. Other issues in philosophy of psychology are philosophical questions about the nature of mind, brain, and cognition, and are perhaps more commonly thought of as part of cognitive science, or philosophy of mind. For example, are humans rationality, rational creatures? Is there any sense in which they have free will, and how does that relate to the experience of making choices? Philosophy of psychology also closely monitors contemporary work conducted in cognitive neuroscience, evolutionary psychology, and artificial intelligence, questioning what they can and cannot explain in psychology. Philosophy of psychology is a relatively young field, because psychology only became a discipline of its own in the late 1800s. In particular, neurophilosophy has just recently become its own field with the works of Paul Churchland and Patricia Churchland. Philosophy of mind, by contrast, has been a well-established discipline since before psychology was a field of study at all. It is concerned with questions about the very nature of mind, the qualities of experience, and particular issues like the debate between Mind-body dualism, dualism and monism.


Philosophy of social science

The philosophy of social science is the study of the logic and method of the social sciences, such as sociology and political science. Philosophers of social science are concerned with the differences and similarities between the social and the natural sciences, causal relationships between social phenomena, the possible existence of social laws, and the ontology, ontological significance of structure and agency. The French philosopher, Auguste Comte (1798–1857), established the epistemological perspective of positivism in ''The Course in Positivist Philosophy'', a series of texts published between 1830 and 1842. The first three volumes of the ''Course'' dealt chiefly with the natural sciences already in existence (geoscience, astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology), whereas the latter two emphasised the inevitable coming of social science: "''sociology, sociologie''". For Comte, the physical sciences had necessarily to arrive first, before humanity could adequately channel its efforts into the most challenging and complex "Queen science" of human society itself. Comte offers an evolutionary system proposing that society undergoes three phases in its quest for the truth according to a general 'law of three stages'. These are (1) the ''theological'', (2) the ''metaphysical'', and (3) the ''positive''. Comte's positivism established the initial philosophical foundations for formal sociology and social research. Durkheim, Marx, and Max Weber, Weber are more typically cited as the fathers of contemporary social science. In psychology, a positivistic approach has historically been favoured in behaviourism. Positivism has also been espoused by 'Technocracy (bureaucratic), technocrats' who believe in the inevitability of social progress through science and technology. The positivist perspective has been associated with 'scientism'; the view that the methods of the natural sciences may be applied to all areas of investigation, be it philosophical, social scientific, or otherwise. Among most social scientists and historians, orthodox positivism has long since lost popular support. Today, practitioners of both social and physical sciences instead take into account the distorting effect of observer bias and structural limitations. This scepticism has been facilitated by a general weakening of deductivist accounts of science by philosophers such as
Thomas Kuhn Thomas Samuel Kuhn (; July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American whose 1962 book ' was influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term ', which has since become an English-language idiom. Kuhn made several cla ...
, and new philosophical movements such as critical realism (philosophy of the social sciences), critical realism and neopragmatism. The philosopher-sociologist Jürgen Habermas has critiqued pure instrumental rationality as meaning that scientific-thinking becomes something akin to
ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the science of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of ...
itself.Outhwaite, William, 1988 ''Habermas: Key Contemporary Thinkers'', Polity Press (Second Edition 2009), p. 68


Philosophy of technology

The philosophy of technology is a sub-field of
philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

philosophy
that studies the nature of technology. Specific research topics include study of the role of tacit and explicit knowledge in creating and using technology, the nature of functions in technological artifacts, the role of values in design, and ethics related to technology. Technology and engineering can both involve the application of scientific knowledge. The philosophy of engineering is an emerging sub-field of the broader philosophy of technology.


See also

* Bayesian epistemology * Criticism of science * History and philosophy of science * List of philosophers of science * Metaphysical naturalism * Metascience * Objectivity (philosophy) * Philosophy of engineering * Science policy


Footnotes


Sources

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Further reading

* Bovens, L. and Hartmann, S. (2003), ''Bayesian Epistemology'', Oxford University Press, Oxford. * Gutting, Gary (2004), ''Continental Philosophy of Science'', Blackwell Publishers, Cambridge, MA. * Peter, Godfrey-Smith (2003), ''Theory and Reality: An Introduction the Philosophy of Science'', University of Chicago Press * * Losee, J. (1998), ''A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science'', Oxford University Press, Oxford. * Papineau, David (2005) ''Science, problems of the philosophy of.'' Oxford Companion to Philosophy. Oxford. * * Popper, Karl, (1963) ''Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge'', * * Ziman, John (2000). ''Real Science: what it is, and what it means''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


External links

* * * {{Authority control Philosophy of science, Academic discipline interactions Analytic philosophy Epistemology Historiography of science Philosophy by topic, Science Science in society Science studies