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Philosophy of science

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Philosophy of science is the investigation into the concepts, methods, principles and ideas by which science operates.[1] Natural science operates most often by presupposing a particular philosophy but that should not be the case. Science is primarily a practical discipline; its standard is utility or "whatever works". It is only when science is asserted as justifiably true and the only rational authority for knowledge that it becomes philosophical, or epistemological, and more specifically can be called scientism. It then competes with other philosophies, something which natural scientists like biologists should be and write like they are reluctant to do.

History

A creationist philosophy of science is firmly supplanted within history, informing itself by following the intellectual development of science, and in particular the metaphysics of Christian theism (and in the broader sense religion).

Ancient

Modern

A theme of the history of science is found in medieval philosophizing about the necessary being God. Significant analytical approaches to nature were undertaken in light of the understanding gained about the nature of God. If a creator of nature and the universe, like God existed, He is a God of "reason and order" (See: Logos). This allows a coherent argument within the philosophy of science for the precondition of the intelligibility of nature. Without this metaphysical foundation of intelligibility, scientific investigation would never have been conceptualized. Science as a discipline cannot function without metaphysics. In short, the reason as to why nature began to be seen as having "pattern and regularity" is because a mind of similar characteristic created it. Creation is then empirical (known by "observation and experiment") while the cause that created is known a priori.

Evolutionists usually appeal to the random and chaotic essence of the universe not logic and reason as the birth of life. This is on purpose to alleviate the implications of teleology. A very influential notion, essentially sparking the birth, during the middle ages of what was then called natural philosophy, but has become what is now called natural sciences.

Pursuing suggestions of M. B. Foster and A. N. Whitehead, Eric Mascall has maintained that Christian theism cleared a metaphysical space within which modern science became possible. Since the Christian God is a God of reason and order, any world God creates will exhibit pattern and regularity. But because God freely creates the world, its order will be contingent. The world’s structures cannot be deduced a priori, then, but must be discovered by observation and experiment.[2]

What is essentially argued is that the metaphysics and necessarily the historical revelation of the Christian religion gave a top-down (metaphysical to the physical) grounding, as opposed to bottom-up, for why science can even be approached. During the middle ages the mindset initially began with a creator in focus, as the discipline of science settled into its position after a secular cultural revolution, post enlightenment, the reason of man encroached. Reorientation onto what science can answer, and then extending it to all areas of life through the reason of man spread into a more diverse secularized type of world. This amounted to a philosophical re-orientation of the sciences as well. Conceptualizing of the sciences changed from the middle ages mindset of a hierarchical, top-down metaphysical to physical (supernatural to natural) reality, to a bottom only (metaphysical naturalism and scientism) reality. This attitude of scientism crept into humanity because science was shown to offer an immediately ultimate justification, that is deeply personally, namely appeal to the personal sensory system.

Issues

The philosophy of science is concerned with illuminating the nature of scientific research.[3] Philosophers of Science achieve this end by analyzing the assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.[4] Historically speaking, this branch of philosophy studies scientific inquiry from ontological and epistemological points of view.[3] The ontological aspect attempts to define which entities can be explained by scientific theories and what ones lie outside the bounds of scientific research.[3] The epistemological aspect evaluates the concepts and methods used to developed theories about natural phenomena such as observational procedures, patterns of argument, methods of representation and calculation, and metaphysical presuppositions.[3]

Philosophy of science serves the following purposes:

  • It helps in illuminating a definition of science to determine which realm of ideas are accessible, and which of these is "only religion" or "only philosophy;"
  • Develops criteria for determining which ideas are to be considered science, which are speculation, and which are false;
  • Develops more comprehensive ethics of scientific methods for experimentation and observation to advance science.

Philosophical

Natural science does maintain a philosophy and was called "natural philosophy" or "experimental philosophy" but this turned into, during the nineteenth century, the term "natural science". Science was seen as separate from philosophy since the methods and goals of science had become sufficiently distinct from those of traditional philosophy. The empirical difference did not however stop natural science practitioners from articulating philosophies like scientism. Scientists often ridicule philosophy as useless or with no empirical meaning (See: Verificationism) and philosophers as people who cannot agree on anything. Ironically leading twentieth century philosophers of natural science gave natural science preferential treatment within their writings because of the empirical qualities inherent in the language used to describe and make it function.

What is often the result of the application of close-minded philosophies of science is negation of the individuals attempt at deductive reasoning. Either by a scientist, student or laymen, deductive reasoning may lead to deeper matters of philosophy, which should not be approached in technical and scientific peer-reviewed journal articles. Instead of framing a particular world view, honest presentation of inductive observation should be the goal. It is rather difficult however for people in general and scientists particularly to do, for two significant reasons. Firstly people inherently interpret the evidence based on philosophical assumptions that have been predetermined, mostly unaware that grounds of philosophy is where they are finding there assurances. There is no neutral evidence it is all interpreted through world views. Secondly there is already institutional encouragement of this approach by evolutionists in order to solidify their own strict philosophy of science, considered strict philosophical naturalism.[5]

A priori and A posteriori

Main Article: Epistemology

A priori ("from the earlier") and a posteriori ("from the later") are important concepts about knowledge within epistemology.[6] A priori concepts emerge purely from within the mind itself prior to sense experience. Sense experience as is used within this context does not mean the experience of learning a language. In order to justify a proposition, that constitutes a premise within an argument, a person must have a good reason for holding to that premise. An a priori justified argument is one that appeals to non-empirical knowledge, or independent reasons without experience. Through reflection alone upon the content of a proposition allowing apprehension of truth would be considered a priori knowledge.

Origin of life

Main Article: Origin of life

Because of philosophical naturalism of modern science unsophisticated assumptions are present. The widely held belief of evolution of one common ancestor or what is called a monophyletic origin of life is assumed. An assumption embraced possibly because to suggest many original forms of life is to approach a biblical framework enabling special creation as a facet of understanding. Observations such as the convergence of genetic similarities in independent ancestral lineages antagonize the necessity of common ancestry assumption. This and other evidences are forcing the neo-Darwinist to acknowledge inconsistency of the deductive assumptions that mold their predictions.[7] The assumed one tree of life (Darwinian common ancestry) is also becoming a position exposed to philosophical grounds rather than scientific rigor of technical and exacting observational conclusions.[8]

Other issues

Other more specific issues include:

  • Science: Understanding what science is generally, the different types of science, and how we arrive at "scientific truth;"
  • Objectivity in Science: This is the instance that scientists are totally objective in their research and collection of data.
  • Science and the Supernatural: Defining "science," and "supernatural," and determining a proper relationship for the two;
  • Paradigmatic Schematic: Understanding axioms, theories, paradigms, and the interaction of the three;
  • Falsifiability: A criterion for determining what is "science" and what is not.
  • Metaphysical paradigms: Various views on the nature of the universe, and the effect those philosophical views have on philosophy of science;
  • Teleology and Philosophical naturalism: Opposing philosophical positions on the existence of design and purpose in nature. Teleology asserts that there is purpose and design in nature; philosophical naturalism asserts that there is none.
  • God of the gaps: The argument that creationism is invalid because it just puts "God" in the gaps of science.
  • Religious empiricism: the belief that evidence, science, and logic lead to belief in the God of Abraham;

Dominant Philosophies of Science

Theism

Main Article: Theism

Theism is the religious metaphysical philosophy that asserts God exists and that He created and sustains the cosmos. Classical theism supports a creator God that not only exists but is omniscient, omnipresent, exists necessarily, is nonphysical, eternal and essentially good. The Cambridge Companion to Atheism puts the philosophical position of theism as, "belief in a personal God who takes an active interest in the world and who has given special revelation to humans."[9] The most competitive alternative philosophy within the modern intellectual climate is metaphysical naturalism. An entrenched philosophy of science acting without the existence of God and the soul, preceding with the assumption of strict materialism.[10]

Naturalism

Main Article: Metaphysical naturalism

Metaphysical naturalism or ontological naturalism is a worldview in which reality is composed of nothing but natural things, forces, and causes. All concepts related to consciousness or to the mind refer to entities which are reducible to the same such natural things, forces and causes. Within naturalism's metaphysics there is no objective existence of any supernatural being, force or cause, such as are described in various religions and mythological accounts. All supernatural things are ultimately explainable purely in terms of natural things. Metaphysical naturalism is a monistic and not a dualistic view of reality.

The explicit and sole focus on the natural world has driven modern science into accepting naturalism as the predominant philosophy of science. Many Christian philosophers like Alivn Plantinga and William Lane Craig have deemed naturalism as maintaining a stronger stance than atheism. According to Plantinga naturalism not only presupposes the non-existence of God but extends over all areas of life answering a range of deep existential questions like how life should be viewed, what the world is fundamentally made of and what the purpose of humanity actually is. From this metaphysical position philosophers have charged naturalism as being a worldview and thus granting the cognitive functions of a religion missing support for only the outward actions of worship and/or ritual.[11][12]

References

  1. Hilary Putnam on the Philosophy of Science: Section 1
  2. Charlers Taliaferro, Paul Draper and Phillip L. Quinn, A Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Wiley-Blackwell 2nd edition, 2010) pg. 59
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Philosophy of Science at Answers.com http://www.answers.com/topic/philosophy-of-science
  4. Philosophy of Science Wikipedia
  5. Jerry Coyne's Blacklist of ID Scientists By Michael Egnor. March 28, 2011
  6. A priori and a posteriori By Wikipedia
  7. Science Article Acknowledges Convergent Similarity Is "Contrary to Expectations" of Neo-Darwinism By Casey Luskin March 25, 2011
  8. Craig Venter denies common descent — Dawkins incredulous By William Dembski
  9. Michael Martin, The Cambridge Companion to Atheism (Cambridge University Press 2007), pg. 1-2
  10. William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (Blackwell Publishing 2009), pg. 8
  11. The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science, "Evolution versus Naturalism" by Alvin C. Plantinga. Pg 137.
  12. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: religion-science

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