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Chapter 1

PHIL 2180 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Steven Shapin, Empiricism, Science Wars

Course Code
PHIL 2180
Karyn Freedman

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Chapter 1: Introduction
Science Wars: Intellectual debates between scientists and science critics in the 90’s.
Physics and Molecular Biology are “arguably” the most central examples of science today.
Science: Derived from the Latin word Scientia, meaning the results of logical demonstrations that
revealed truths.
Understanding of how humans gain knowledge of the world.
Understanding of what makes the work from the Scientific Revolution different from other
kinds of investigations of the world.
Epistemology: Philosophy concerned with questions about knowledge, evidence, and rationality.
Metaphysics: Deals with general questions about the nature of reality. (Both overlap in Ph of Sc).
Descriptive Theory: An attempt to describe what actually goes on or what something is like, without
making value judgements.
Normative Theory: Makes value judgments, talks about what should go on or should be like.
Objective: Either;
Absence of bias, impartialness.
Claims about whether existence of something is independent of our minds.
Much 20th century philosophy of science aimed at describing the logical structure of science.
We can try to describe scientific strategy for investigating the world.
How Science Works:
Empiricism: Carl Hempel
Family of philosophical views.
“The only source of real knowledge about the world is experience.”
Pro-science, science is the best way to investigate the world.
Direct empirical tests are not successfully guaranteed; “cholera germs in water.”
Mathematics and Science: Galileo
An attempt to understand the natural world using mathematical tools.
Mathematical methods have been used against empiricism.
Attempt to quantify phenomena and patterns in the flow of events.
Mathematics used as a tool in an empiricist outlook, makes science special.
Not all science needs mathematics; Theory of Evolution.
Social Structure and Science: Steven Shapin
Cooperation and lineages are essential to science.
Trust allows for greater science.
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