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Need some help in understanding the philosophy of science

  1. Dec 22, 2013 #1
    First of all I am a scientist, or a chemist to be more precise. I am changing career to become a chemistry teacher and my course requires me to write an essay on the nature of science and teaching science etc..

    I'm having a hard time understanding these 3 philosophers view on what science is?

    Thomas Kuhn - Came up with the idea of Paradigm shifts and that scientists create their own paradigms to explain a phenomena, this can change hence the term paradigm shift? that's all I understand...

    Karl Popper - Something about falsifiability?

    Francis Bacon - no idea.

    Can anyone explain to me what their view on science was and how they differed to each other as simple as possible?

    I am trying to critique their views but I first need to understand them in good detail.

    Many thanks for your assistance.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 22, 2013 #2


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    You may get some replies, but generally speaking, philosophical discussions, even those dealing with the philosophy of science, are off limits at PF. After all, it is Physics Forums, not Philosophy Forums.

    All three figures you mentioned are rather well-known. There should be no shortage of hits if you do an internet search on them and their work.
  4. Dec 22, 2013 #3


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    Personally, I think trying to get all philosophical about science is a waste of time, but then I'm an engineer by training. Science is about trying to understand reality. As Feynman says in one of his more famous videos, you test scientific theories against reality by doing experiments and if you find an experiment that says the theory doesn't explain reality then it is wrong. It doesn't matter how elegant it is or how smart or well-known the person who proposed it, if it doesn't match reality, it's wrong. Period. THAT's what science is all about.

    Also there is falsifiability, which is what separates science from religion. In science we require that a theory be falsifiable. A theory that is NOT falsifiable is not science, it is philosophy or religion. Religion is just the opposite; you take the theory as being true even in the face of reality saying otherwise because in religion, facts are irrelevant in the face of belief whereas in science, belief is irrelevant in the face of facts.
  5. Dec 22, 2013 #4


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    Perhaps one can find some notes online, e.g., here's a set about Kuhn's publication, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions:


    This might help with Popper - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/popper/
    and Bacon - http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/francis-bacon/
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2013
  6. Dec 22, 2013 #5


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    As has already been pointed out, we don't do philosophy here, which is why the thread was closed.
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