How Philosophical Arguments influence Science

Alright. We will admit, philosophical argument influence science. No matter how much we try to pretend that science is the tallest mountain. The crux and support of all other fields. Science is supported by philosophical arguments.

Inquiry question: 

How have philosophical arguments influenced the development of modern scientific research? 

  • Explore epistemology and alternative ways of knowing, for example, the development of navigation

Philosophical arguments can use both inductive and deductive reasoning to attempt to evaluate the basis of a particular conclusion. These philosophical arguments forced scientist’s conclusions to pass the rigour of scientific testing in order to explain phenomena. The conclusion had to be drawn from a valid experiment and the explanation for observed phenomena had to pass Occam’s razor. 

What does it mean to know something?

To simplify this question we will look at the knowledge of a fact, this could include who, what, when and where of a certain detail which is true. Therefore, knowledge is connected to a fact.

“To Know” is a universal word which can be translated in every language – this is very rare for language only about 100 words are known to do this.

Epistemology is knowledge acquired through the senses such as sight, feel, sound or taste. In order to know something through epistemology, one requires confidence in what they are observing through their senses to be correct, this, therefore, requires them to believe what they are seeing is correct and also requires that what they are perceiving to be a truth. Whilst, some belief knowledge to be a social construct which is based on what humans deem to be the “truth”.

One theory of epistemology is that knowledge exists before it is discovered, therefore, it’s out there waiting to be discovered. Whereas on the other hand it is believed that knowledge is created through discovery by man.

From here the question arises “How do we know what we don’t know?” Whilst this is still being debated, however, the role of science is to discover what is not known 

Other ways of knowing include but are not limited to:

  • Faith
  • Intuition
  • Reasoning
  • Imagination
  • Memory

Ontology is an understanding of the nature of being human. This may be the view that people are best represented as individuals whilst others may believe people are best represented as groups. Research’s beliefs of the ontology may influence their research for example if they believe the former they may conduct personality tests whilst if they believe the later they will conduct observational investigations to understand how they interact with others.

Axiology aims to understand the value of research. This can be trying to determine what is beneficial research i.e is researching global warming or a new treatment for cancer more valuable – this can be influenced by social, cultural, political and economic factors. This can also influence whether researches want their research to influence society or to better understand society.

Therefore, epistemology, ontology and axiology are underlying philosophical ways of knowing which are usually used by research’s subconsciously during a scientific investigation. There own view’s attribute to the way they conduct their methods.

Philosophical Arguments influence Science Exam-style Questions

Question 1.

Outline epistemology, axiology and epistemology [1 mark each]

Question 2.

Evaluate how our understanding of epistemology reveals the limitations of our scientific understanding and our ability to understand the world. [9 marks]


Question 1.

Question 2.

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