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Comparison of the Scientific Philosophies of Kuhn, Duhen and Lauden - Essay Example

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Name Class Teacher Date Comparison of the scientific philosophies of Kuhn, Duhem and Lauden Thomas Kuhn, Pierre Duhem, and Larry Lauden each contributed valuable information regarding the philosophy of science and the issues which beleaguer it. Foremost for all of them was the question: How can scientific process be more accurate?…
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Download file to see previous pages Therefore, his philosophy will be examined first. Duhem posits that “hypotheses are not straightforwardly refuted by experiment and that there are no crucial experiments in science.” (Wikipedia, 10/19/11) This means that a hypothesis cannot be directly disproved by being part of an experiment. There are several possible reasons which support this theory. First, Duhem works on the presumption that experiments are conducted by humans, who are fallible. Therefore, the results they produce will not be perfect. This means that experiments in science are inherently flawed, which devalues the results of said experiments. Duhem would go on to set the stage for the theories of Kuhn and Lauden, because Duhem presents the idea that hypothesis, experiment, and fact are not inextricably linked. Kuhn and Lauden dig deeper to consider the reasons why. Thomas Kuhn makes the point that “science has included bodies of belief quite incompatible with the ones we hold today.” (Kuhn, 238) The premise here is that one generation’s science is another generation’s bunk. Certainly, history is full of examples of past beliefs which have fallen out of fashion with the advent of scientific knowledge and the technology which helps to uncover it. For example, scientific beliefs since the time of the Egyptians have changed irrevocably over the centuries, but Kuhn’s point is that at the time those discoveries were made, they were the newest (and therefore most valid) sources of scientific information. Kuhn further posits that what scientists and scientific historians should be concerning themselves with is to “ask new sorts of questions and to trace different, and often less than cumulative, developmental lines for the sciences. Rather than seeking the permanent contributions of an older science to our present vantage, they [should] attempt to display the historical integrity of that science in its own time.” (Kuhn, 238) By contrast, Larry Laudan challenges us to re-consider the entire purpose of science. He believes it is “to ask…whether science through time brings us closer to achieving our cognitive aims or goals.” (Laudan, 145) Does scientific knowledge bring us closer to those? Laudan presents a valuable point, which is that “principals of testing, comparison, and evaluation of theories seem to vary significantly from level to level.” (Laudan, 144) This seems to say that there are a number of variables present which cannot be reconciled from level to level or from scientist to scientist. These variables can manifest themselves as simply as the fact that all people interpret results slightly differently. Take, for example, a doctor who views a patient’s X-ray on which there is evidence of carcinoma. A general practitioner would have a different interpretation of this than would a pulmonary specialist. They both see cancer, but only the pulmonary physician can properly assess which treatments would be most appropriate in attempting to eradicate the cancer. Now, suppose the patient can only afford to see his general practitioner because that is all his insurance will pay for – he never gets to see the lung specialist, and is relying entirely on the scientific opinion of only one scientist to assess his chances of survival. This is only one example of the flaw in scientific method: suppose the pulmonary physician was more well-read on the latest techniques of eradicating lung carcinoma, and the general ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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