Friday, 1 January 2010

Objecting to objective reality.

A recent discussion led me to considering why I find philosophical objections to scientific methodology utterly unconvincing and even being applied out of its league. And here are my thoughts;

Science doesn't claim; that objective reality certainly exists and that no other possibilities exist.
It simply makes the practical assumption that objective reality exists. If science is wrong about that then that should be seen in its products.

Science demonstrably works so its assumptions must be true at least in certain contexts (i.e. not necessarily absolutely true since that is indeterminate).

The problem with approaching science with a philosophical mind is often that we stop talking about science and start talking about the underpinning philosophy of science. Some may say this is equally important, but I put it to you that once something is developed and works one doesn't need to show that the tools used to produce it were valid, because you could quite easily say "the proof is in the pudding".

In other words, we tend to forget that science demonstrably works and that it doesn't presume that it can find everything (scientists may, but they are not the formal methodology). In fact, science by its very formulation can never know everything; there is no way to scientifically demonstrate that all is known - as we will always have to assume there is more to find out, even when there isn't. That's how rigorous science is, it's never satisfied.

I often feel people are attacking common opinion and scientists rather than science itself. The methodology stands without scientists and can hypothetically be determined true or false on its own merits, so ad hominems have no place in the direct critique of science as a methodology.