What is this thing called “science?” (Part 1)

How did our planets form and how do humans continue to evolve? We can relate these questions to a subject we all know and may or may not love; science. What is the square root of 25 and what is the formula to calculate the slope of a line using two points? Well, believe it or not, that is science as well. Have we, as individuals, stopped to think, “What defines science, as science?” We will explore and discover the difficulties of this question in this blog. Before we begin to tackle answering this question, we need to understand the reason behind why this question is so difficult to comprehend. Let’s first take the two questions asked in the beginning. We know that’s science because we learned so in school. But what about the other two questions. Math can be defined as, “the science that deals with the logic of shape, quantity, and arrangement” (livescience.com).



So, what is the limit for what science is? The first idea covered in this blog is epistemic relativism. The simple definition is when the standard for the claims is relative to each other. In the book, Philosophy and the Sciences for everyone, the example of Galileo and Bellarmine or the geocentric vs. heliocentric systems were presented. Both will try to prove why their theorem will “deliver a true story about nature” (11). In this case, their claims are both about science, but their reasoning is not relative to one another. Galileo uses science and reasoning (by using a telescope), and Bellarmine used religion (by using the bible). We can infer that this wasn’t epistemic relativism. So why is this example given in the book? Well, to my understanding, this example was used to show how a spirited debate could be aroused even though the two men had completely different standards of reasoning. This makes us wonder what the men were debating: was it their claims (geocentric or heliocentric) or their standard of reasoning (scientific or religious)? Even though in this scenario it is obvious that Galileo was right, we still need to understand which standard of evaluation is correct. This will be proved by Popper’s inductive theorem. In the next blog, we will explore Popper’s theorem and how to infer which standard of evaluation is correct.


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