Re: [asa] HPSS - Survey of Views

From: George Murphy <>
Date: Sat Apr 05 2008 - 19:08:26 EDT

I wonder how many cases can be cited of a scientist who's done a significant piece of work - & especially one who has made a major discovery - in which following the guidance of some philosopher of science about how to do science played a major role. (N.B. I distinguish that from a philosophy of how the world is: As John Barrow said, AAlmost every working scientist is a realist - at least during working hours.@)

I can think of one example - sort of.
  ----- Original Message -----
  From: David Opderbeck
  To: Randy Isaac
  Sent: Saturday, April 05, 2008 2:46 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] HPSS - Survey of Views

  Randy -- I'm never quite sure to make of it when practicing scientists waive aside POS by saying "we just do the science." I guess there's an analogue here between legal academia and law practice -- I think much more deeply now about jurisprudence and legal philosophy than I did in practice. In practice, my view of the world was very pragmatic -- I had cases to handle and little time to think about the broader context of what I was doing.

  But I never thought the broader context was just irrelevant. Actually, it bothered me sometimes that I didn't have the luxury of thinking more deeply about my work -- which is one reason I'm glad I've had the chance to move into academia. I suppose we could say the same about just about any field in which there are both theoretical and practical questions -- e.g., theology and pastoring, pedagogical theory and teaching, communications theory and journalism, sociological theory and social work, and so on.

  So, sure, the typical working scientist doesn't think very deeply about the broader context of his or her work. But that doesn't make those broader questions irrelevant. I mean, to say "we just do the science" is really just question begging, isn't it?

  On Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 7:41 PM, Randy Isaac <> wrote:

     I've read only Kuhn and read about Popper's views. Though I'm interested in knowing what they have to say, I'm not inclined to spend the time reading them. Nor, to my knowledge, do I know many scientists who do. Most of us prefer to just do the science. We know it when we see it but can't always define it. Are you indirectly confirming that all the paradigm changes they consider still retain the core of a belief that science is possible?
      Moorad, I'm not sure I understand your question but I do believe that the fact that anything exists at all and that what does exist is coherent and orderly is one of the more potent arguments for the existence of God.
      ----- Original Message -----
      From: Gregory Arago
      To: Alexanian, Moorad ; Randy Isaac ;
      Sent: Friday, April 04, 2008 5:27 PM
      Subject: RE: [asa] HPSS - Survey of Views

      "But I wonder if any of these 4 (or others) philosophers of science ever considered a paradigm shift that included abandoning the idea of a consistent order in the universe?" - Randy Isaac

      Yes, those 4 are all philosophers of science. But also, as I pointed out in the previous post, they are trained in physics, mathematics and psychology. So they are also 'scientists' as far as the term goes. As to your above question, Randy, it makes me wonder if you have read any of them, especially Feyerabend. This indeed was the main purpose of the thread to discover. Thanks to those who have already commented on this survey in public and private. - G.A.

      "Alexanian, Moorad" <> wrote:
        Scripturally, God sustains His creation, which means "no God, no nothing." Therefore, to what extent God sustaining the creation shows up in the existence and temporal development of all that there is?



        From: on behalf of Randy Isaac
        Sent: Fri 4/4/2008 10:56 AM
        Subject: Re: [asa] HPSS - Survey of Views

        Maybe we need to differentiate between the perspective of a given
        scientist and that which develops from the collective perspective of the
        scientific community. Certainly, each scientist approaches the data from a
        paradigmatic framework and is not (cannot, I think) be "purely objective",
        whatever that might mean. However, part of the essence of scientific
        methodology is independent corroboration and reproducibility and acceptance
        by the collective community of scientists in that particular field. In
        principle, this means that scientists from all sorts of different
        sociological and philosophical perspectives weigh in on the matter. This
        doesn't mean that complete objectivity without influence by any paradigm is
        achieved but it does make a big difference in sifting out spurious results
        that might be unique to a given paradigm. What needs to remain in common to
        all paradigms is the core belief that there is order in the universe and
        that science is possible

        This core belief is what differentiates many creationist and ID
        presuppositions. Creationists typically claim significant discontinuities in
        the laws of nature. This means that whatever order there is in the universe
        was different in the past, the so-called non-uniformitarian assumption.
        Some, though not all, ID perspectives include the idea that certain aspects
        of the order in the universe bear the hallmarks of intelligent manipulation
        rather than typical cause and effect relationships.

        As a result, when the paradigm that shapes one's conclusions differs at
        such a basic level, all sorts of red flags are raised. It's no wonder that
        conflicts ensue. But I wonder if any of these 4 (or others) philosophers of
        science ever considered a paradigm shift that included abandoning the idea
        of a consistent order in the universe? My guess is that when they talk of
        paradigm shifts, they reall mean something very different.


        ----- Original Message -----
        From: "James Mahaffy"
        Sent: Friday, April 04, 2008 7:48 AM
        Subject: Re: [asa] HPSS - Survey of Views

> Folks
> Kuhn -- yes and he was very important in helping me understand that
> science does not work just objectively
> Popper -- am somewhat aware of him but have not read him and way back when
> I picked up one of his books did not find it easy to read.
> Others -- not really.
> It is interesting how often on this group science appears in many posts to
> be objective and not really influenced by paradigms.
> James Mahaffy ( Phone: 712 722-6279
> 498 4th Ave NE
> Biology Department FAX : 712 722-1198
> Dordt College, Sioux Center IA 51250-1697
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  David W. Opderbeck
  Associate Professor of Law
  Seton Hall University Law School
  Gibbons Institute of Law, Science & Technology

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Received on Sat Apr 5 19:11:55 2008

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