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The Philosophical Journey: An Interactive Approach

Science: The Search for Truth  

The search for ultimate truth leads people down various paths; as you have seen in the text.  One avenue favored by many is that of the scientific method.  Empiricists suggest that, although limited, the knowledge gained by following the scientific method is superior to other kinds of knowledge (based on faith and opinion) because scientific knowledge is objective.  Science, they say, is unbiased in its search for the truth.  Where truths based on faith and opinion vary from person to person, scientific truths hold for everyone.  The law of gravity, for instance, applies even to those who refuse to acknowledge it; let anyone who disagrees try to levitate or fly from a tall building.  While few would deny that the scientific method has been fruitful in producing knowledge that people have found many uses for, both positive and negative, some people question the objectivity of the scientific method.

  • What is the scientific method anyway?  Some of these links provide  background on how science is supposed to work.
  • One of the characteristics of the scientific method that is touted by its proponents is that it is value free.  Unlike other knowledge seeking enterprises such as religion, science has no biased agenda; instead it searches for pure truth, whatever it might be.  Critics of science, however, argue that science is not value free, that it has an underlying agenda that taints all its results. Is science value free?
  • Science’s reliability and objectivity rests on the ethics of individual scientists.  The scientific method is designed to ferret out scientists who cheat and falsify results by requiring the replication of experiments by many unrelated sources.  Some of the following links detail various instances of scientific fraud.  Is there something wrong with the scientific method?

  • If science does indeed provide unbiased and objective knowledge then it seems that this knowledge should be made available to everyone in public schools.  What happens, however, when the knowledge provided by science clashes fundamentally with knowledge from other sources, such as religion?  These links detail one specific case of such a clash where the scientific knowledge about evolution disagrees with religious knowledge of creation.  Should all public school children learn evolution?  If not, why not?  If so are we relegating all non-scientific knowledge to second-class status?

Values and Attitudes in Science

Thomas Hobbes and the Scientific Method

The Scientific Method- A great overview

The Scientific Method of Problem Solving

Skeptic.com--The Skeptics Society and Skeptic Magazine

Science, Objectivity, and Religion

Science Fraud!

Science and Science Criticism

Science and Culture in Conflict

Journal of Scientific Exploration- Critical forum on rationality and observation in science.

Ethics in Science- Bibliography, essays, etc.

 

 


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