Philosophy of science: reflections

Paul Grobstein's picture

Welcome to the public on-line forum area for Phil 310 = Bio 310 at Bryn Mawr College. This is not a required part of the course. It is, though, a way to keep course conversations going between meetings, and to do so in a way that makes our course conversations available to others who may in turn have interesting thoughts to contribute to them. I'll be posting my thoughts in progress here throughout the course, and would be delighted to have others join in.

Feel free to write about whatever has been on your mind this week. The focus of class discussion was on where we started and where we have gotten to over the course of the semester (and where that in turn might take us).
Valeria Pizzini's picture

I found particularly

I found particularly interesting seeing the difference between where we started and where we got to. Looking at the picture, it appears that different approaches can be used to explain a particular phenomenon and the world, and science can be considered either something that is made up as we are going along or something that has a precise ending
I am convinced that the major purpose of science is to generate laws and theories in order to elucidate, comprehend, and try to control determinate phenomena that exist in nature. Therefore, science needs a collection of distinct phenomena, which can function as a main point for a particular investigation.
As it is clearly suggested by Paul Grobstein, science is about a specific change “that results from making observations, cataloguing them in a way that makes them publicly available, creating individual and collective stories about those observations, and then using the story to motivate the collection of more observations that in turn alter both the stories and the ways they are told”(Grobstein, 2005). In this way, science appears to have the character of an open forum, where the collected observations and stories can be evaluated from different perspectives.
However, science does not present itself as objective truths and principles with universal values. Rather it is a continued developing of conjectures and hypotheses (doubting). In fact every scientific theory has the feature of a hypothesis, not of an absolute truth. Therefore, it cannot capture the truth in an absolute sense, one time forever, because its character is to be a persistent effort without an exact ending (getting it less wrong). We know exactly where we start our observations but we do not know where we are guided by these observations.

Paul Grobstein's picture

where we got to

Click on image for enlargement

Paul Grobstein's picture

Philosophy of science: places to move from

Here is where we were. And, if emergence is the model, we want now to know where we are, so we can see where we might go next. So from our starting point ...

  • constructivism versus realism
  • multiplism versus singularism
  • edification versus elucidation
  • content independence versus context dependence

and as we have developed/evolved/emerged (hybridly)

  • individualism versus collectivism
  • subjectivism versus objectivism
  • science as not distinct from other forms of inquiry versus importance of demarcation
  • relativism versus absolutism
  • particularism versus univeralism
  • foundationalism versus non-foundationalism
  • making it up as we go along versus knowing where we are going

And the answer is ....

randomness