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Lecture 8

HST 111 Lecture Notes - Lecture 8: Natural Philosophy, Scientific Revolution, Falsifiability

Course Code
HST 111
John Morgan

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Scientific Revolution
Science: some aspect about the study of nature. Latin word “scientia”
which meant any kind of demonstrated of proven knowledge in any field.
In early modern period, they talk about “natural philosophy”. Natural
philosophy was a broader field than modern science. Example: astrology
(study of movement of planets) and consider as part of natural philosophy.
Gunnery, you need knowledge on how to aim a cannon during this period
and learn mathematics. They exist on the fringe of scientific knowledge.
Examples of natural philosophy: Navigation, agricultural theories
Scientific revolution -> term revolution used to describe short political
revolution. Term still stuck in popular and academic language.
Period of history roughly from the middle of 16th century until end of 17th or
early 18th century. Roughly around 150 years. It changes not only what we
only think about the external world but also changes approaches of
knowledge and what colatitudes knowledge in western civilization.
It bring understanding of verifiable knowledge about nature and become
core of new approach of this nature
Empirical = observation. Knowledge had to be observed and proven
through facts. Knowledge come from degree of suspicion.
Correct way of accumulating knowledge through observation and testing
our ideas. Setting up control experiments. Can’t set up experiments on
everything. Testing can be equivalent to looking at something a number of
times. Combination of testing and observation become basic methods of
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accumulating knowledge.
Idea of repetition: not good enough if you view it once. When you do some
kind of observation and set up experiment, you have to get same or similar
results. It has to be available to other people. Purpose of repetition is to
give us something other creatures don’t have. Repetitions of results can
give us predictability. Advantage of determining some degree of our future.
From predictability, we can design scientific laws. It always happen the
same way.
Robert Boyle (chemist) complain how chemicals he purchased is not good
Natural philosophers come to the conclusion that certainty is not possible
when studying nature and modern science do not rely on certainty. They
abandon search for certainty and rely on PROBABILITY.
It is close to the accuracy. We have high satisfaction of probability.
Argument about whether science is “socially constructed” the way moral
codes are socially constructed. In secular society moral codes change as we
determine them to change. Our facts are socially constructed.
Facts: anything people believe by consensus by society that could be true.
Facts can be doubtful. It may be no more of what a society deems to be
true. That is true until we prove otherwise.
Falsifiability: principle is that high degree of probability and what we may
think is a fact can be overthrown.
Who in society gets to determine what a fact is? We establish authority
figures that tell us what the facts are. For example: doctors.
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