February 19, 2009

The "Ph" in a PhD: Philosophy issues in Science

These excerpts talk about science in a universe that cannot be exclusively understood in terms of it. From the "Science" article of Wikipedia.

Philosophical focus

Historian Jacques Barzun termed science "a faith as fanatical as any in history" and warned against the use of scientific thought to suppress considerations of meaning as integral to human existence.[27]
Many recent thinkers, such as Carolyn Merchant, Theodor Adorno and E. F. Schumacher considered that the 17th century scientific revolution shifted science from a focus on understanding nature, or wisdom, to a focus on manipulating nature, i.e. power, and that science's emphasis on manipulating nature leads it inevitably to manipulate people, as well.[28]
Science's focus on quantitative measures has led to critiques that it is unable to recognize important qualitative aspects of the world.[28] It is not clear, however, if this kind of criticism is adequate to a vast number of non-experimental scientifics fields like astronomy, cosmology, evolutionary biology, complexity theory, paleontology, paleoanthropology, archeology, earth sciences, climatology, ecology and other sciences, like statistical physics of irreversible non-linear systems, that emphasize systemic and historically contingent frozen accidents.
Considerations about the philosophical impact of science to the discussion of the meaning (or lack thereof) in human existence are not suppressed but strongly discussed in the literature of science divulgation, a movement sometimes called The Third Culture.
The implications of the ideological denial of ethics for the practice of science itself in terms of fraud, plagiarism, and data falsification, has been criticized by several academics. In "Science and Ethics", the philosopher Bernard Rollin examines the ideology that denies the relevance of ethics to science, and argues in favor of making education in ethics part and parcel of scientific training.[29]

Epistemological issues

Psychologist Carl Jung believed that though science attempted to understand all of nature, the experimental method used would pose artificial, conditional questions that evoke only partial answers.[34]

Robert Anton Wilson criticized science for using instruments to ask questions that produce answers only meaningful in terms of the instrument, and that there was no such thing as a completely objective vantage point from which to view the results of science.[35]

Parkin suggests that, compared to other ways of knowing (ex.
divination), the epistemological stance of science is on the same spectrum as any other approach; it is simply in a different area of the range in terms of its specific techniques and processes.[36] In this sense, to the degree that divination is an epistemologically specific means of gaining insight into a given question, Parkin suggests that science itself can be considered a form of divination that is framed from a Western view of the nature (and thus possible applications) of knowledge (i.e. a Western epistemology).

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