Science from a philosopher’s perspective
Science has undergone a lot of transformations and many theories have been formed to form the basis of truth and knowledge. The nature of science is that it introduces the use of experiments as a means of reaching to an idea. It is therefore important to note that science is based on objectivity that basically means that one has to look into the two sides of the divide then come up with an informed choice that satisfies the need for knowledge search. Scholars, for the sake of coming up with theories have adopted the use of paradigm. The replacement of one paradigm to another is what Kuhn referred to as the scientific revolution. The use of paradigm as a puzzle solver has been used by a number of scientists just to have a sensation of how it feels like to use such a method. Initially Kuhn tried to use the paradigm just for the purpose of theory development, but individuals adopted the method for other scientific satisfaction that could result in inventions.
Thomas Kuhn makes an interesting point that would form the basis of discussion and evaluation in this paper. He says, “Though the world does not change with a change of paradigm, the scientist afterward works in a different world” (Kuhn & Hacking, 2012 p. 109). What this means is that different changes that take place in the scientific arena do not change the world, but what happens in the development of science and how people view the development does change it (Suppe, 1979 p. 149). The thought behind this idea is that scientific theories have to go through some transformations for the purpose of improving the already existing theory so that it is made much better and informative.
Kuhn makes an argument and suggests that past information concerning science should be given a fresh look (Hoyningen-Huene, 1993 p. 2). He says constant reevaluation of theories needs to be a priority. This would then affirm that the fresh ideas that emerge during the time of reevaluation are incorporated and thus, become a major backbone for analysis and evaluation (Hoyningen-Huene, 1993 p. 2). A number of steps emerge when it comes to defining scientific process. Kuhn bases his theories on the basis of the paradigm that informs the realities and the critical issues that emerge. Also informing the basis for reason are the emerging questions that are important to a research process. The paradigm is therefore a way of systematizing the search of truth when it comes to science.
The very basic necessity for research is the ultimate search of knowledge. When research is done, it allows for a proper reevaluation and search of knowledge; thus, there is addition of knowledge of the already existing piece of information. Kuhn further states that there are a lot of dynamics that are involved in the search of knowledge. The transformations in the scientific field make it necessary for the scientists to constantly research so that there is an addition to the already existing information or transform the theory totally to have new meaning, which to a large extent form and expand the knowledge base. The consistency and persistency by the scientist lead to huge breakthroughs that goes a long way in bringing forth fresh information, which help in solving some of the issues being dealt with.
The information that comes from the scientists has some level of accuracy that can be used to form a basis of knowledge or opinion. It is unnecessary to note that scientists do not cook the results to inform their decisions, but rather they are informed by the various research works carried out for the sake of finding the real meaning in a phenomenon. In science, there are many testing processes that go on in comparisons to other theories (Salmon, 1999 p. 147). Thus, when information is produced through theory, the viability of such knowledge cannot be wished away.
In Kuhn’s argument, it is clear that the facts that already exist to inform the basis of the theories. Theories are basically moving from the unknown to the known. In this regard, the existing truth about a phenomenon is used as a basis to which new knowledge is produced. Case in point is the fact that the knowledge that exists is used as a benchmark in finding out fresh information. The already existing facts cannot be divorced from the research work. It is from the available information that new data is added or an idea about the existing facts is developed.
It is important to note that past information is important in search for information. That does not mean that scientific methods of finding knowledge are abandoned. The documented facts are very important in knowledge search, as it provides a stepping-stone over which research is based. While historical facts are important, science is used for the sake of testing those very facts so that the historical facts are tested against what is universally accepted. The conventional methods of finding information that is scientific are employed in this regard. Therefore, to the historical facts, there are clear fundamentals that are laid bare as a result of interrogating the best using the scientific methods.
Science helps in finding specific details about a phenomenon. It is different from history where description is the order of the day. The reason as to why research is done is that accurate details about the phenomenon are laid bare for the sake of knowledge building. Describing a phenomenon does not give an accurate account of the existing knowledge. History cannot be used for the sake of giving accurate information even though the historical facts are important as they give a clear starting point for research. This then helps in a broad understanding of a phenomenon and therefore it is correct to state that science feeds individuals with knowledge through the accuracy as a result of tested facts and information.
Science plays a major role in the lives of individuals on a daily basis. Science has made it easy and practical to deal with issues of life from health issues to modeling perceptions of the need to adopt certain procedures in solving issues. Methods that are used for the scientific analysis are far much more accurate to some level thus it helps in day to day life in understanding issues beyond the metaphysical. Everywhere across the globe, science has sought to give people understanding on issues beyond imaginations. There are ways and means in which science portrays the world on the basis of the prevailing history of a given phenomenon. Some of the most pertinent issues when it comes to science are methods that are adopted for the sake of generalizations and the expressions of scientific analysis based on the history.
One single factor that is most critical about science is that there are underlined conventional ways of giving a clear testimony on the way the different methods are used. Science is founded on the basis that people are bound to find out the hidden meaning of some of the issues that are found in a given phenomenon. The reason for this is that people are always curious to know the truth that then they use for the purpose of understanding. Science provides several guiding principles that have been used in the past by many scientists to state the unpredictability of life and things in the universe. Science has got a number of principles that are followed for the sake of reaching an amicable solution that would form the basis of our understanding.
Some of the principles are, one needs to find a reason for carrying out the research in other words the problem has to be stated. After stating the problem, the next thing is to gather information based on a problem then one needs to hypothesize using the data collected which is then followed by testing of the data collected through experimental procedures and then lastly there needs to be proper and careful analysis of the data collected so that the right information is given based on what is already known. Historical facts are very important because one can develop a problem statement from the already existing set of information that is used for the purpose of research. After the research is done, the new findings are then used for comparison. The historical facts are then used with the new set of information for comparison. It is thus important that one does not undervalue the importance of historical data for reaching at the conclusion. That is the very reason why one can be able to go ahead and comfortably research on some phenomenon because the existing data becomes a major backbone for the purpose of informing decisions. That is why scientists are very enthusiastic about finding new knowledge.
Science is all about getting information that does not presently exist to answer some questions that put people into doubts and dilemmas. Through the information provided, one can therefore draw conclusions that are well-versed. The methods adopted in science have some kind of logical steps that it follows to verify the authenticity of some given facts. It then means that the observation has to be accurate and to the point since if the observation is inaccurate, then one cannot give a proper hypothesis on a given subject.
Any problem that is being sought for answers must be done in some systematic way so that nothing is left out on the basis of analysis. Normally, in this kind of analysis, only facts count and nothing else. No assumptions are considered because then it means that there would be confusion. Qualitative ways of analysis cannot therefore apply in this case. A lot of objectivity is required for the sake of standard analysis. The observable facts, thus, become an important tool. Knowledge is thus developed not only through the use of new data but the historical data become important in this endeavor.
Kuhn talks about scientific theories and the fundamentals that make a theory better. In his analysis, he talks about a better theory being consistent. That means that a theory must be in line with past findings. This means that theory findings should be very close to past findings for the sake of drawing comparisons that are well with the stipulated framework. Secondly, Kuhn talks about a better theory being broad in scope. This literally means that a theory should be able to cover a wide are to answer the question that pertains to some particular aspect.
Broad scope has all to do with covering the topic in a wide sense so that most of the questions are answered. A theory should also be very simple to understand. That is to say that it should not be very complex so as not to achieve the set objective. The aim of a theory is to help solve puzzles and when it is complex it cannot be used for the purpose of understanding. Lastly Kuhn talks of a better theory as being fruitful (Kuhn, 1973 p. 357). The theory should be able to do what it was set to do. For instance, a theory developed to enhance better relationship in a place of work should be able to achieve that very aim. When it fulfills the mandate then the theory is said to be a better theory.
Scientific philosophers have not taken into serious considerations the issue of subjectivity that is more internal than external. Many of the inventions have come through the subjective criterion and though the philosophers do not credit subjectivity as an important tool, but only claiming it as being a weakness of the individual; they have tended to use it to inform the basis of theory. A few of the philosophers can claim a clear procedure of arriving at knowledge search (Kuhn, 1973 p. 358). They however depend on the scientists for more research to close in on the gap that exists as a deficiency of knowledge. Kuhn is of the view that scientific objectivity must be accompanied by subjectivity.
It would be imperative to use both for the purpose of reaching a convincing conclusion on the kind of information being sought for in order to make the right choice to use in theory development. The choices that are made are dependent on the individual’s way of choosing the right criteria to use. Every choice must be one that would make it possible for disclosure of evidence. In the real sense, the criterion that is to be used should be precise and well within the scope over which truths are derived. The choices should be coined as values other than the rules, for the sake of achieving universality. It should be an individual’s right to choose which criteria to use though even in making the choices, value must prevail over any other thing.
The reason for values and norms is that they provide clear guidelines on the right procedure to follow and as such, it should be noted that guidelines are important in theory development. To get it right in theory development, one has to get it right on the choice of criteria to use. Kuhn is of the opinion that it is important to have the right choice and criteria for the purpose of coming up with a sound theory that is universally accepted and one that is conventional (Perumalil, 2006 p. 56).
Kuhn tries to develop a philosophical analysis and according to him, it is the definition of normal science, which he tries to use the details for a change in the scientific arena. The ideas he tries to adopt with an aim of finding the hidden meaning behind issues are rather covered by a lot of controversies and this is what he calls a paradigm (McGrew, Alspector-Kelly & Allhoff, 2009 p. 466). The developments in the scientific field according to Kuhn are basically irrational and the ideas he tries to bring out in his opinion should be most viable for consideration. The notion that normal science should have some similarities based on some previous developments is just, but in a narrow sense. In a wider perspective paradigm, it should be able to encompass several ideas and methods that provide a broad basis of understanding based on the development of any new information.
Kuhn is not of the opinion that some of the laid down procedures should be followed to the latter. Instead, he is of the opinion that one should make own choice for the sake of having a credible knowledge. The basis of science is to provide the general population with accurate and precise information about some puzzles (Kuhn, & Hacking, 2012p. 35). Also important to note is that science has methods and procedures that are deemed important and therefore, should be followed to the latter if one is to come up with some concrete solutions to any problem. It is therefore dogmatic for Kuhn to allege that following such procedures and rules amounts to indoctrination (Payne, 2010 p. 389). For Kuhn, having numerous solutions for the problems is what is called progress in the field of science.
The various methods that are employed by scientists make it possible to come up with solutions that are convincing. Scientists have universally accepted rules and procedures that guide in the development of theory and therefore, when they arrive at a solution, then the very outcome is accepted universally because of the accepted generalizations. If the scientists were to base their search for solutions based on the philosophical procedures, it would have been very difficult to achieve the landmark achievements over the years. Normal science solves a puzzle though within the agreed framework based on methods with a focus on the paradigm (Steinbruner, 2002 p. 11).
The notion that a huge transformation occurs in the field of science when there are several anomalies based on some paradigm is questionable. Kuhn says that when there are these large-scale anomalies, then there emerges a new paradigm that accommodates the anomalies. Science works on the basis of facts and not trial and error. Even though he tries to find some meaning in his argument, it is important to note that science has fundamentals that have to be followed strictly for the sake of coming up with a solution that is convincing and generally acceptable. It therefore cannot be said that the change in paradigm should affect the already existing scientific principles. The basis of science as it were is that it builds on the past theories and tries to bring out the most current information from the very theories. This is done through the use of prevailing conventional methods. However this is very different from what Kuhn suggests. Kuhn argues that the use of the old principles does not make science any better for it is stuck on the old principles and therefore nothing new should be expected from the field of science with the same old tricks. That is why he suggests the use of paradigms as a solution to having a revolution in the field of science. This argument has been criticized for it is totally in oblivion concerning the scientific principles that exist. As much as he recognizes them, he does not give them the merit they deserve.
There emerges some basis of classifying scientific process according to Kuhn. He starts with pre-scientific stage, which he says is the stage where agreeable facts are gathered with the varied theories co-existing. The next stage is what he calls Paradigm Emergent stage, which is basically a period when several theories come up that are more valued than others, although some research is initiated since they are unacceptable. The other stage is now the normal science in which the paradigm becomes generally accepted and the issues arising within the paradigm sorted. The crisis stage is where several anomalies surface making it possible for the crisis to be felt (Kuhn, & Hacking, 2012p. 52). This makes it possible for a development of a new paradigm which aims at solving the problems that emerge, and this is what Kuhn calls the revolutionary stage (Ione, 2002 p. 17). According to Kuhn, the anomalies that occur in one paradigm should be solved by another paradigm. This is to some extent brings in some inconsistency. The reason for this is that the anomalies that occur in another paradigm should not be carried wholesale to another paradigm for solution (McGrew, Alspector-Kelly, & Allhoff, 2009 p. 468). Instead the most logical thing would be to use the old paradigm and the new paradigm for the sake of having a comprehensive solution to the anomalies.
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