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Philosophy Of Science

  Philosophers of science start from two questions above all: Is it possible to understand the universe? and Is natural science the means to reach such understanding? Leaving aside questions of methodology, which constantly ambush the discussion, the quest concerns such things as the nature of universal truth, the conflict (if any) between science and other universal explanations (such as religion) and the intrinsic identity, nature and validity of ‘science’ itself. One 20th-century development which would have surprised most previous scientists (and particularly those of the preceding century), is that science now appears to deal more with what we do not know than with what we do: the departure from certainty has been one of the most striking features of its recent evolution. Like all philosophies, that of science is usually studied in terms of its own history; in this, as in its study of such things as the objectivity of evidence and the validity of judgement, it closely parallels religious studies—something else which would have surprised many early scientists. KMcL

See also life sciences; mathematics; physics; scientific method.Further reading R. Harre, Philosophies of Science.



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