Scientific realists claim that science aims at truth and that one ought to regard scientific theories 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 unobservables like electrons or other universes. 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.
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 can play a role ranging from determining which research gets funded to influencing which theories achieve scientific consensus.
The origins of philosophy of science trace back to Plato and Aristotle  who distinguished the forms of approximate and exact reasoning, set out the threefold scheme of abductive , deductive , and inductive inference, and also analyzed reasoning by analogy. The eleventh century Arab polymath Ibn al-Haytham known in Latin as Alhazen conducted his research in optics by way of controlled experimental testing and applied geometry , especially in his investigations into the images resulting from the reflection and refraction of light.
Roger Bacon — , an English thinker and experimenter heavily influenced by al-Haytham, is recognized by many to be the father of modern scientific method. Francis Bacon no direct relation to Roger, who lived years earlier was a seminal figure in philosophy of science at the time of the Scientific Revolution.
In his work Novum Organum —an allusion to Aristotle's Organon —Bacon outlined a new system of logic to improve upon the old philosophical process of syllogism. Bacon's method relied on experimental histories to eliminate alternative theories. In this philosophy[,] propositions are deduced from the phenomena and rendered general by induction.
The 19th century writings of John Stuart Mill are also considered important in the formation of current conceptions of the scientific method, as well as anticipating later accounts of scientific explanation. Instrumentalism 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 a set of theories of knowledge that combines logicism , empiricism , and linguistics to ground philosophy on a basis consistent with examples from the empirical sciences.
Seeking to overhaul all of philosophy and convert it to a new scientific philosophy ,  the Berlin Circle and the Vienna Circle propounded logical positivism in the late s. Interpreting Ludwig Wittgenstein 's early philosophy of language , logical positivists identified a verifiability principle or criterion of cognitive meaningfulness. From Bertrand Russell 's logicism they sought reduction of mathematics to logic. They also embraced Russell's logical atomism , Ernst Mach 's phenomenalism —whereby the mind knows only actual or potential sensory experience, which is the content of all sciences, whether physics or psychology—and Percy Bridgman 's operationalism.
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 via logicism, while rational reconstruction would convert ordinary language 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 s, logical positivists fled Germany and Austria for Britain and America. By then, many had replaced Mach's phenomenalism with Otto Neurath 's physicalism , and Rudolf Carnap had sought to replace verification with simply confirmation.
With World War II 's close in , logical positivism became milder, logical empiricism , led largely by Carl Hempel , 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 ,  and dominated Anglosphere philosophy, including philosophy of science, while influencing sciences, into the s. Yet the movement failed to resolve its central problems,    and its doctrines were increasingly assaulted.
Martin Curd & Jan Cover (eds.), Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues - PhilPapers
Nevertheless, it brought about the establishment of philosophy of science as a distinct subdiscipline of philosophy, with Carl Hempel playing a key role. In the book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , Thomas Kuhn argued that the process of observation and evaluation takes place within a paradigm, a logically consistent "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. 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 across paradigms.
PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, PROBLEMS OF
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.
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.
Shop by category
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?
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.
D.O.W.N.L.O.A.D [P*D*F] Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues
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. 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. One type of reductionism is the belief that all fields of study are ultimately amenable to scientific explanation.