Philosophical Interpretations of Science

Introduction

The word science is thought to come from a Latin word, “Scientia”, that means knowledge. As such, many people believe that science refers to the acquisition and application of knowledge and understanding the natural and social world using a systematic methodology constructed on evidence. In modern times, there have been various philosophical interpretations of science, but they all differ in terms of concept and the meaning. Therefore, this paper will seek to distinguish the various interpretations and ascertain whether there is a single philosophical interpretation about science.

Realism

Kuhn Thomas tried to come up with interpretations of science by developing scientific realism. He stated that any scientific knowledge should aspire to find out the truth about how things really were (Psillos 34). The concept of realism is considered to have an optimistic attitude towards the theories. Science should always aim at recovering the truth about the nature of reality. Thus, to view anything as scientific, it should embrace an effective method of attaining the truth about the particular fact. Realists argue that there may be many ways of describing particular phenomena, but any idea that is selected, is usually nominated because it is nearest to the truth about the nature of reality. Realists further agree that science keeps progressing through different stages. As such, scientific realism concerns itself with the very nature of the scientific knowledge. Therefore, the scientific realism concerns itself with how the world existed independently, the scientific claims about the world, and the theoretical claims that constitute knowledge of the world.

Anti-Realism

It refers to the school of thought that opposes the scientific realists. They assert that any scientific rationality by the realists has come about due to its relation to nature. As such, this school of thought considers that any truth should only be arrived at after engaging in various experiences. Therefore, all statements that scientists make about what is not directly observed need not be thought as either true or false (Cohen et al. 54). The statements will only be successful if they can predict or even deducing the observed statements. Thus, for any statement to be understood to be scientific, the features of the hypothesis should be explained first. Secondly, the hypothesis should be able to come up with correct conclusions. In fact, anti-realists argue that all the past theories that were successful are now viewed as false due to their inability to fulfill the criteria above and that they are based on the reality of the unobservable.

Evolution Theory

Charles Darwin purported the theory in his book about “origin of species.” He asserted that evolution was a process in which organisms change over time because of alterations in their physical as well as behavioral traits (Nardo 50). Those changes allow organisms to adjust to their environment, a situation that helps them to survive and increase in population. Biologists consider that evolution is a scientific fact that occurred in modern organisms since they differ from their past patterns. They also believe that evolution is still taking place. The hypothesis is corroborated by evidence from a variety of disciplines. Two main points back it up firstly, it avers that all organisms on earth are linked and related to each other.

Secondly, the diversity of life is a product of alterations in the populations by means of natural selection, a situation where environment favoured some traits over others. However, those against the theory assert that it cannot be a scientific fact since the causal levels of reference have always been an organism, and no amount of confirming instances of the theory can change them into facts. Secondly, it is seen to be a set of theories applied to a variety of inquiries. In essence, according to the theory, anything that is scientific should occur over a period, it should also occur in the environment, and there should be evidence that supports it. For example, whales are believed to have lived on land, and they had limbs, which enabled them to walk, with time, they changed and conformed to the water environment.

Relativity Theory

Einstein, who wanted to explain situations in which the Newtonian physics failed to deal successfully with phenomena, explained the theory. Thus, he came up with changes in the human ideas of time, space, and gravitational attraction. The theory was grounded on two primary points. Firstly, the concept is that the velocity of light is constant for all the viewers. Secondly, the observers who are moving at a constant speed should depend on the same physical laws. According to the theory, time must change according to the velocity of a moving object in space. Thus, both time and space are relative in this case. Scientists have examined the theory and seen that an atomic bomb ticks slowly when travelling at a higher velocity than it does when it is not in motion. The theory explained why the light from stars in a gravitational field was closer to the red end of the spectrum than those far away stars (Parker, 42). From the above, it is clear that science is affected by time, space and gravitational force; hence, it is dynamic.

Quantum Theory

The hypothesis in this theory states that the movement of a single atom could not be accurately assessed because the velocity and position could not be examined with any assurance. Moreover, the theory is concerned with physical phenomena that involve observation of the smallest physical things and processes, especially the atoms (Cannavo 12). As such, it allows particles and atoms to move in many ways simultaneously. Many physicists have tried to prove the theory with larger molecules. If the models are correct, then the quantum effect will not be apparent above a certain mass. According to the theory, science is affected by the speed and the size of particles.

Conclusion

As is evident form the above analysis, it is apparent that there is no single philosophical interpretation about science. The evolution theory believes that any scientific fact should originate in the environment, have evidence backing it, and occur over a particular period. The relativity theory asserts that time, space, and gravity should affect any scientific fact. On the other hand, the quantum theory asserts that any scientific fact should be affected by speed and its position in the environment. The realists believe that anything close to the truth is scientific, while the anti-realists believe that there must be observable changes supporting any fact. Therefore, the world is changing and it will be hard to come up with one single interpretation of science. In essence, until that happens, it is evident that there is no clear interpretation of science.

 

Works Cited

Cannavo, S. Quantum Theory: A Philosopher’s Overview. Albany, NY: SUNY, 2009. Print.

Cohen, R. S., Risto Hilpinen, and Jen-tsung Chʻiu. Realism and Anti-realism in the Philosophy of Science: Beijing International Conference, 1992. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic, 1996. Print.

Nardo, Don. Evolution. San Diego: Greenhaven Thomson/Gale, 2005. Print.

 Parker, Katie. The Theory of Relativity. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark, 2010. Print.

Psillos, Stathis. Scientific Realism: How Science Tracks Truth. London: Routledge, 1999. Print.

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