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Lecture 14

philosophy lecture 14- the objectivity of science.docx

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Philosophy 1020
John Thorp

14. The Objectivity of Science? 1. Introductory: the knowledge systems of religion and science compared Question: How does science differ from religion as a source of knowledge? Knowledge system: Religion – draws knowledge from authority (scripture, tradition, magisterium), reason and experience Ideal Science – reason and experience 2. The Scientific Method: a) Inductive – inferring general laws from particular instances b) Empirical – relying on observation to draw conclusions about the world (as opposed to assumptions, hunches, unfounded beliefs or imagination) c) Systematic – designing carefully controlled studies or experiments (controlling for as many variables as possible) d) Transparent – methodology is transparent, allowing other scientists to repeat or replicate the experiment or study e) Falsifiable – hypotheses that can be systematically tested with empirical methods and potentially refuted f) Objective – not influenced by personal feelings, opinions, beliefs, or expectations in considering and representing observed facts (free from explicit or implicit basis) Ideally, science needs “the straight facts” 3. Science and Objectivity: a striking case-study Is science always objective? Athena Beldacos Male activity vs. female passivity a) Aristotle  This theme is traced back to Aristotle (384-3222 BCE)  The female was seen as the incomplete male, and the male as the real parent of the offspring b) Preformationism – the idea that sperm contains homunculi (the animal is thus contained in the sperm; the uterus simply provides a growth medium) c) Katabolism and Anabolism – 1890: The Evolution of Sex, determination of sexual characteristics in the fertilization process: katabolism and anabolism d) Fertilization theories i) Courtship many spermatic suitors court the egg; the ovum decides which “sort” of sperm will be allowed entrance into the egg substance. ii) Sperm Sagas Many sperm stories portray the sperm as a heroic victor. That is, the egg doesn't choose a suitor; rather, the egg is the passive prize awarded to the victor. In these epic stories, the heroic sperm struggles against the hostile uterus. iii) Hostile Uterus “Conditions in the vagina are very inhospitable to sperm, and vast numbers are killed before they have a chance to pass into the cervix. Millions of others die or become infertile in the uterus or oviducts, and millions more go up the wrong oviduct or never find their way into an oviduct at all. The journey to the upper portion of the oviducts is an extremely long and hazardous one for objects so tiny.... Only one of the millions of sperm cells released into the vagina actually penetrates the egg cell and fertilizes it. As soon as that one cell has fertilized the egg, the [egg] cell membrane becomes impenetrable to other sperm cells, which soon die.” (Keeton 1976, 394) iv) Gang Rape “There
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