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Author Topic: How do you define science?  (Read 5216 times)

Offline DoctorBeaver

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How do you define science?
« on: 25/05/2008 11:16:32 »
What actually is science?

In the psychological community there has been much debate as to whether psychology is actually a science. I take the view that, as a whole, it is not; at least, not yet.

Neuro-psychology, I believe, can be labelled a science as it deals with tangible objects (i.e. the brain). Introspection and Gestalt psychology, on the other hand, I would say are not as their subjects are abstact. Can anything abstract be considered a science?

Medicine is a science. But what about psychiatry, which is a combination of medicine and psychology?

We have some very knowledgeable geologists on this site. Do they consider geology a science? I would tend to. Vulcanology, being a subset of geology, I consider most definitely a science.

I recently heard on the radio someone being introduced as a "business scientist". He was what I would call a business consultant. That to me degrades the term "science".

I know some very eminent thinkers have come up with definitions of science, but what do you think? Can you come up with any criteria that would enable us to say with certainty that discipline A is a science, discipline B is not?
« Last Edit: 25/05/2008 11:19:08 by DoctorBeaver »


 

blakestyger

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How do you define science?
« Reply #1 on: 25/05/2008 19:22:03 »
There seems to be a concensus that science involves hypothesis, experiment, observation, evidence, proof and testing and retesting by others etc - there is no room for faith-based conjectures. There also appears to be a widely held belief that there is something special about science and its methods so that some claim or line of reasoning is called scientific then it possesses some kind of merit or reliability.

Shouldn't we be asking whether scientific theories are probable or more in the nature of provisional conjectures? Can scientific theories ever be verified if they have to be able to be falsified for them to be able to tell us anything about the world?

Most people might consider Copernicus' work to have been scientific (I certainly do) but he did not do an experiment neither did he have demonstrable proof for his heliocentric model.
It's probably more meaningful to consider the methods and successes of science at a particular time more in terms of available methods and paradigms than in universal logical principles and procedures.

Regarding psychology, Karl Popper (whom I believe worked with Jung) started his philosophy of science thinking because he noticed that no matter what the patient presented the psychologists could always make it fit their theory!

One really interesting character was Paul Feyerabend (d. 1994) who was sceptical about the rationality of science; he maintained that scientific success was attained as a consequence of politics, rhetoric, and propaganda rather than the advancement of our objective knowledge of the world.
Tell me he wasn't right.


 

Offline eolhcute

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How do you define science?
« Reply #2 on: 26/05/2008 22:58:49 »
he word science comes from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge.

How do we define science? According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is "knowledge attained through study or practice," or "knowledge covering general truths of the operation of general laws, esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method [and] concerned with the physical world."

What does that really mean? Science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge. This system uses observation and experimentation to describe and explain natural phenomena. The term science also refers to the organized body of knowledge people have gained using that system. Less formally, the word science often describes any systematic field of study or the knowledge gained from it.

What is the purpose of science? Perhaps the most general description is that the purpose of science is to produce useful models of reality.

Most scientific investigations use some form of the scientific method. You can find out more about the scientific method here.

Science as defined above is sometimes called pure science to differentiate it from applied science, which is the application of research to human needs. Fields of science are commonly classified along two major lines:
   - Natural sciences, the study of the natural world, and
   - Social sciences, the systematic study of human behavior and society.



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Offline DoctorBeaver

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How do you define science?
« Reply #3 on: 27/05/2008 00:35:14 »
he word science comes from the Latin "scientia," meaning knowledge.

How do we define science? According to Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, the definition of science is "knowledge attained through study or practice...

I was at music college for 3 years. I studied & practised music, but I wouldn't call it science.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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How do you define science?
« Reply #4 on: 27/05/2008 00:45:03 »

Regarding psychology, Karl Popper (whom I believe worked with Jung) started his philosophy of science thinking because he noticed that no matter what the patient presented the psychologists could always make it fit their theory!


Although both hailed from Vienna, I don't believe they worked together (Maybe they did & I've just forgotten. It's a fair few years since I studied Jung & Popper). Karl Popper came to London to work at the London School of Economics (LSE). He developed the theory of "potential falsifiability " as a means to separate science from non-science.
« Last Edit: 27/05/2008 00:49:06 by DoctorBeaver »
 

blakestyger

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How do you define science?
« Reply #5 on: 27/05/2008 21:41:50 »
DoctorBeaver you are right - it wasn't Jung but Adler that Popper worked with and subsequently became disillusioned with psychology.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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How do you define science?
« Reply #6 on: 28/05/2008 08:59:20 »
DoctorBeaver you are right - it wasn't Jung but Adler that Popper worked with and subsequently became disillusioned with psychology.

Larry Adler? The famous harmonica player?   :P



 

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How do you define science?
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