Saturday, July 22, 2006

Is Science Justified?

Following the tracks of radical Skepticism one has to wonder if science or anyother empirical line of thought can be justifiable within that philosophical stance... Many (including philosophers) have accused Skepticism to be in contradiction with Rationalism, the greatest concern was that Skepticism suggests that knowledge is unattainable - which is a false accusation (as demonstrated in this post)!!

The argument goes like this: Skepticism implies that perception is an unreliable source for information, that all information collected through perception is deteriorated and misleading to the truth of things... Skepticism holds that one cannot be certain of anything, and that empirical observation doesn't lead to factualness... Skepticism also holds the position that all scientific observations might have systematic errors and that all science is prone to error, no matter how solid it might seem (consider how Einstein redefined Newtonian physics)....

Most of these arguments are more or less true, BUT NOT the conclusion: Some have concluded that if Skepticism was true then all science has to be abandoned, and no-one would ever be justified to seek knowledge... I object to anyone who claims that Skepticism advocates abandoning science or rationality!

I think the Newtonian physics example is a good one: We all know that ( Force = Mass * Acceleration ), this formula was constructed by Newton, and proved to be wrong by Einstein! This is an example of scientific fallibilism which demonstrates that even scientific propositions cannot be held as certain... But lets consider the functional view: This formula has been a great assist in numerous sciences and inventions including but not limited to sky rockets, cars, projectiles,...etc. So at the functional level, although this formula has NOT been absolutely true it has made our life easier and got us to technological advances that would have been otherwise unattainable!!

So while Skepticism questions the factualness of science and empirical observation, it does NOT imply that they are not justified based on functional and practical grounds... Therefore it is justified and need not be abandoned - because its serving its purpose!

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