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The Aim of Science

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Fifty, Nov 14, 2007.

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What's the epistemic aim of science?

  1. To achieve objective understanding through the provision of explanations

    20.0%
  2. to identify the laws of nature

    8.0%
  3. to arrive at a unified picture of nature

    5.3%
  4. to discover the fundamental causal processes at work in nature

    6.7%
  5. to arrive at the truth concerning stuff we just happen to be curious about

    26.7%
  6. other

    9.3%
  7. I deny the triviality objection! We want all truths!!!

    10.7%
  8. There is no aim of science beyond practical concerns

    13.3%
  1. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    So what makes you think these are standard beliefs of western thought?

    I think you should close your deep posts with a nice big christmas tree from now on :xmastree:
     
  2. brennan

    brennan Argumentative Brit

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    Is the aim of science epistemic, or is that you sticking the goalposts exactly where you want them?
     
  3. Izmunuti

    Izmunuti Chieftain

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    You're going to have to do way better than that.For a start of course the non-physical can have an effect on the physical world, we call it physics. Second, just what kind of meta-physical are you talking about here? Is it the supernatural, which does not and could not possibly exist? Or are we talking the quantum end of things, where, whilst currently limited, science is still capable? Thirdly, I couldn't possibly think that scientific method could be applied to something I don't believe exists, since that would be a logical fallacy.
     
  4. Yuri2356

    Yuri2356 Test Screening

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    And enjoy delicious cake.
     
  5. downtown

    downtown Crafternoon Delight

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    The aim of Science is to lower my GPA, and to dash my attempts at
    a) going out on weekends
    b) getting into the law school I want.
     
  6. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    So here's, in a nutshell, why most of these views is wrong:

    1. We don't give a hoot about every truth, where truth is concerned as "true proposition".
    2. The Unity-of-Science view is wrong: It doesn't seem like there's any fundamental "laws" that will explain every scientifically significant question.
    3. It isn't about figuring out "why" questions either: any trivial truth can factor into a complete explanatory picture or objective explanation of something.
    4. There is no other way to figure out which "why" questions are important (i.e. which stuff is scientifically significant) except by saying they are those things which we are curious about, or those things which bear a relevance relation to those things we ARE curious about.

    That's it in a nutshell.
     
  7. gallego

    gallego Prince

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    So where does this leave you? Do you have a "right" answer, or the things in which we place our curiosity subjective? You still haven't answered my question; what if I have a dissertation on measuring the distance between dust particles? And you haven't shown knowledge not to be subjective--I don't know what definition of "subjective" you are using, but I am referring to the idea that knowledge has to have some stipulation, hypothesis, or non-absolute presupposition attached.
     
  8. warpus

    warpus In pork I trust

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    The aim of science? There can be no such thing.

    The aim of the scientific method? To investigate and understand phenomena.

    This is simple, really. I don't really see why this warrants a discussion!
     
  9. mdwh

    mdwh Deity

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    So what would your answer to the poll be?
     
  10. Gogf

    Gogf Indescribable

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    Before I make a fool of myself by posting something that doesn't respond to the actual question, can you please post the definition of "science" that you're using, fifty?
     
  11. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

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    Hurray for our side!:D

    I think you oversold yourself.

    Who is this "we"? All people? All scientists? All Americans? Alighnment and uniformity of beliefs does not run particularly strong in people, even though the desire for it does. Egos usually derail such efforts that gain momentum.
    Very few people claimed that science should be a "one for all and all for one" proposition. The fundamental laws that you cannot find may be hidden because you are asking the wrong questions. What are these "scientifically significant questions?" Can you post some?

    So science is just about the "how & what" questions?

    You appear to be saying that all things of value and importance are 100% relative and grounded in the individual and his or her personal choice and posing that as some kind of truth. But given what you are claiming, wouldn't that just be some passing whim of an over intellectualized mind with delusions of importance?

    You appear to have doomed your conclusions with a self inflicted death blow.
     
  12. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    I don't know of anybody who thinks certain sorts of contingently true propositions are insignificant. Remember we are talking about actuality here, not metaphysical possibility. It is perfectly possible for some planet to exist where everybody is concerned wholly with dust-counting. But I'm making actual claims about the aim of science here for us.

    What is the fundamental constituent of matter, how do organisms develop, etc.

    Basically. I'd say that the epistemic aim of science is to arrive at the truth concerning things we are interested about. The mode by which this is achieved is the scientific method.

    I'm not sure how I appear to be saying that, but just to clear things up: I'm not saying that.
     
  13. Birdjaguar

    Birdjaguar Hanafubuki Retired Moderator Supporter

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    did I miss something? I cannot fathom what your reply above has to do with what I asked. Where did the aliens and metaphysics come in? i was just asking, in what I thought was a straight forwards manner, who the "we" referred to. It appeared to me that you were making a universal statement about "all people" when you said "We don't give a hoot...." so I made my own generalization about "all people". :confused:

    Why would you expect that science should have all the answers at this particular point in time or even it our near future? Why should your inability to ask or answer such questions doom the rest of us? The fact that you have limited science to very pointed questions acts as a preventative to discovering the broad unifying answers you seek. If discovering a "law" requires the proof to be built upon tiny bits of knowledge, then the fundamental answers you seek will only come over a very long period of time.

    Your question about matter is an important one, but why should we need only 100 years to answer it? You second question seems to undefined to even tackle. "Organism and develop" need clearer definitions.

    So questions about life's purpose and what was before the big bang are good questions for science to tackle? Your opinion in this is interesting, but is it any less of an opinion than every other post in this thread?

    I will paraphrase what you said in 4: The only way to figure out which of the "why" questions are imporant is to identify what we (people) are curious about or those things that are related to what we are curious about.

    This seems to say that the only scientifically relevant questions are those that people want answers to. Those questions stem from individuals and the particualr whims and interests of their minds. That is a totally relativistic and ego driven point of view. Importance comes only from the minds of men and is driven by the curiosity of those living at the time. Inquiry and the search for "truth" is based in the current moment's curiosity quotion. Since you state this as some kind of "truth", it must be subject to itself and therefore a child of a passing curious mind and nothing more. It certainly can't be any kind of absolute or Real Truth.
     
  14. gallego

    gallego Prince

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    This doesn't work. If that planet exists (or can exist--the same thing right now, since you don't know), then they have their own definition of science and ours is only subjective relative to theirs. You don't even know all the people on Earth. You haven't answered my question: What do you do if I have a dissertation on measuring the distance between dust particles?

    This is exactly what I am talking about: presupposition. On top of it, you even admit that the counterargument is possible.
     
  15. Mark1031

    Mark1031 Deity

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    The problem with this whole thread is that each answer has a component of the Aim of science and something that is lacking. Fifty chooses to focus on the question of why we study what we study but answer 5 is lacking in a description of science needing to provide explanatory power. Darwin’s work would be meaningless if he simply catalogued the “truths” that certain birds differ in beak size and shape. It is finding explanatory power in these observed truths which is not captured in answer 5. One could argue that what questions we are curious about have been broadly the same for most of recorded history and thus are implied in the other answers which better capture the other aspects of science. But really it is a pointless discussion anyway.
     
  16. Fifty

    Fifty !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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    Yah, I was incomplete in answer 5. The full answer includes truths which bear a proper relevance-relation to stuff we ARE curious about as well as the curious stuff itself.
     
  17. brennan

    brennan Argumentative Brit

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    Neither does science: Science is not interested in the obtaining of trivial facts, making measurements of the position of dust particles is a part of the scientific process and as such merely a means to an end, the end being to ascertain some underlying principle such as to understand what mechanism is causing the distribution of those particles.
    we
    Wrong. It's just that once you start working with more than a very small number of elements (e.g. atoms/molecules) the equations rapidly become insanely complicated. We can only observe QM working on a macroscopic level when working with things like Bose-Einstein Condensates or supercold Helium at the moment. Chemistry and Biology may only be approximations, but they are based upon the same essential principles as particle physics.
    Science isn't really interested in trivial truths. See above. IMO it's 'why' questions the whole way, in direct contradiction to the old truth that 'here we must turn to the Bishop', or whatever.
    Name something scientists don't study. I've seen studies on coffee stains drying fcs. Read the ignobel nominations. People will study anything.
     
  18. mdwh

    mdwh Deity

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    It isn't simply about truths. The fact that I went to the pub tonight is a truth, but I'm not sure writing that down is going to make any kind of scientific theory.

    Science is more than collecting facts - a crucial part of science is spotting relationships, so that we can simplify the data and make predictions. It's about coming up with models to explain how things work. If we didn't do this, scientists would be more like librarians, simply collecting books on large amounts of data, with no way to express it in a simpler form. In a way, science is a form of data compression on facts about the universe.

    The closest answer to this was (2), however it's worded in a way that implies that these laws are fundamental truths, which I would disagree with. But it is laws (and theories) about the universe which we seek.

    I don't think you can say we were wrong to vote for that, when the only reason it could be read in an incorrect manner was because you were the one to word it that way! I mean, this thread seems to boil down to you making a set of biasedly worded poll answers, and then you criticising people for choosing them! If the poll options are wrong, then the fault lies with the one who chose them :p
     
  19. Eukaryote

    Eukaryote Deity

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    1. To create new technolgy's becuase we're human.
    2. To create new methods and processes because we're human.
    3. To explore, gain new knowladge, an push the boundries of what it means to be human because we're human.
     
  20. Flak

    Flak vBülletin Förum

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    To know God.
     

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