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Email or Customer ID. Forgot password? Old Password. 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. All scientific study inescapably builds on at least some essential assumptions that are untested by scientific processes. 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.

There is no such thing as 'supernatural'. The scientific method is to be used to investigate all reality. Naturalism is the implicit philosophy of working scientists. 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. 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 of telescopes, the mechanics of the telescope mount, and an understanding of celestial mechanics. 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. Quine , it is impossible to test a theory in isolation.

For example, to test Newton's Law of Gravitation 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 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.

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. Instead, he favored a "survival of the fittest" view in which the most falsifiable scientific theories are to be preferred.

Paul Feyerabend — 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 ".

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. Because of this, he said it was impossible to come up with an unambiguous way to distinguish science from religion , magic , or mythology. He saw the exclusive dominance of science as a means of directing society as authoritarian and ungrounded. According to Kuhn, science is an inherently communal activity which can only be done as part of a community. 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. 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 s, became known as the science wars. 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 , Harry Collins , Bruno Latour , Ian Hacking and Anselm Strauss.

Concepts and methods such as rational choice, social choice or game theory from economics have also been applied [ by whom?

Meaning of life

This interdisciplinary field has come to be known as science and technology studies. Philosophers in the continental philosophical tradition are not traditionally categorized [ by whom? 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 The Genealogy of Morals 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-historical perspective. Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel became one of the first philosophers to support this view. Philosophers such as Pierre Duhem and Gaston Bachelard also wrote their works with this world-historical approach to science, predating Kuhn' 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 "life-world" , rather than a progress-based or anti-historical approach as emphasised in the analytic tradition.

The largest effect on the continental tradition with respect to science came from Martin Heidegger's critique of the theoretical attitude in general, which of course includes the scientific attitude. Another important development was that of Michel Foucault 's analysis of historical and scientific thought in The Order of Things and his study of power and corruption within the "science" of madness.


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Analysis is the activity of 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.

Philosophy of science - Wikipedia

One type of reductionism is the belief that all fields of study are ultimately amenable to scientific explanation. 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. A broad issue affecting the neutrality of science concerns the areas which science chooses to explore, that is, what part of the world and man is studied by science. Philip Kitcher in his "Science, Truth, and Democracy" [71] 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. There is no such thing as philosophy-free science; there is only science whose philosophical baggage is taken on board without examination. 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. The problem of induction discussed above is seen in another form in debates over the foundations of statistics.

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 and causation. Philosophy of mathematics is concerned with the philosophical foundations and implications of mathematics.

Was calculus invented or discovered? A related question is whether learning mathematics requires experience or reason alone.


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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 , and the material universe.


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Philosophy of physics is the study of the fundamental, philosophical questions underlying modern physics , the study of matter and energy and how they interact. The main questions concern the nature of space and time , atoms and atomism. Also included are the predictions of cosmology , the interpretation of quantum mechanics , the foundations of statistical mechanics , causality , determinism , and the nature of physical laws.

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 how theories are confirmed in the context of confirming reaction mechanisms.