Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science

Imre Lakatos once said that most scientists have no more idea of the nature of science than a fish has of hydrodynamics. A little harsh, perhaps, but I'm inclined to be deeply cynical of those who blithely talk about science as if there existed this human acitivity that churned out universal truths simply by following a recipe.

I've tried to summarise some of the main ideas in the philosophy of science and I have to say I'm becoming more of a fan of Paul Feyerabend (having just finished re-reading Against Method for the third time) as I get older.

Teaching How Science Works

The emphasis on embedding How Science Works into syllabuses is welcome but my guess is that many teachers, even those who have been research scientists, can find it hard to deliver.

This isn't just because it's difficult to find interesting activities to get across the idea of, say, peer review but more because science is often taught as an end-result rather than a process. And here I'm not talking about 'investigations'. I'm talking about impetus theory and flogiston.

I've taken a fairly uncontentious approach to introducing How Science Works but I'm still deeply suspicious of the idea that there exists some 'scientific method' that leads to 'the truth'.