What Is the Difference Between Natural Sciences?
What Is the Difference Between Natural Sciences?
Karl Raimund Popper, an English philosopher was curious about a certain question, which was ’’whats the difference between natural science, and other areas of knowledge?’’. Popper’s response to that was that scientific claims could technically be disproved, whereas non-scientific ones couldn’t. A theory, which cannot be disproved with no possible fact nor action, is non-scientific, in other words, an area of knowledge. Natural sciences, as interpreted from the name, are the most important and natural divisions of science, for example biology, chemistry and physics. These three are referred to as ’’the most important’’, due to the infinite discoveries that can be and have been found based on those three areas. What Popper wanted was to get rid of prejudices such as that scientific knowledge needs to be a ’’proven’’ knowledge. This statement was made, because in reality, you cannot disprove nor prove a natural science theory, because they are all very abstract assumptions, and assumptions can often appear to be wrong. A scientific theory, is solely a set of hypotheses, which are recognized as long as its not a forgery.
There must always be ways to refute the theory, and to maintain a critical distance in relation to the theory, because thats the only way to progress in science. As long as a theory is disproved, it may be referred to as ’’confirmed’’, but not proven. The objective of science is initially the truth, but it may be, that whilst finding the truth, the scientist does not know himself that he has found the truth. Popper’s own inquiries and curiosities created his own ’’theory’’ in a way, which was that ’’We cannot prove anything in science but we can disprove.’’ During the life of Thomas Kuhn, an American philosopher, there was a wifely spread belief that science is progressing cumulatively, in other words, nothing in the world of science should be set aside, but instead it should be developed more and more. Kuhn then realized however, that science does not progress that way. He much rather preferred to believe that time after time, scientific revolutions may occur, which are called the Paradigm Shifts.
What was thought to happen with ’’proving’’ a theory was a Paradigm Shift. This meant moving from one viewpoint to another, which will eventually change all of the viewpoints. This means that science can be experimented with by anyone, and by gathering some sort of data, and then ’’prove’’ a theory related to that data, can be believed by anyone. However, again, Popper’s claim comes across, where nothing can be proven. The Paradigm is primarily a theory which is based on a certain area of phenomena, and in dealing with the perception of what forms scientific activity. There have been a number of paradigms for example; astronomy, Ptolemy, Copernicus etc. Scientists, who are in favor of a certain paradigm, form a scientific community. Further on, when scientists have embraced a certain paradigm, then this step will be the development of Kuhn’s view of ’’normal’’ science period. The scientists must then work with their approved paradigm, for example, carrying out experiments and researching.
As Kuhn reviewed this, Kuhn realized that scientist were trying to force the so-called nature into the paradigm as much as possible. Some experiments obviously failed, the expectations of other scientists have not disappeared and have not caused any conflicts when an experiment has failed. However, if scientists begin seeing results which are not what they expected at all, then we may start to discuss about anomalies, which may lead to a crisis in science. However, the paradigm cannot be set aside unless there is a new promising paradigm, and the old paradigm has permanently compromised itself. Many problems may occur whilst doing experiments, and that is what may show that the conclusion of that experiment is infact provisional. Hypotheses creating to carry out an experiment correctly may often cause problems, because it might prove to be correct or it might not. Creating a hypotheses of an experiment means you have pre-calculated the circumstances and the results of that experiment. It is another matter whether the hypothesis coincides with the actual results or not.
Whilst testing hypotheses, we might conclude it too soon and claim the hypothesis to be true, however, that is just a generalisation and assumption. I find that the difference between science and an area of knowledge is that sciences are more realistic, which is why you can never be sure of a certain theory as to whether its true or false, because that would be arguing against nature, and that’s clearly not possible. Whereas mathematics, is somewhat of a fantasy science where new rules and theories are allowed to be constructed. In behalf of the all the areas of knowledge, i’ve decided to choose mathematics have as a comparison with natural sciences. Unlike the falsified and disproven proofs in science, we can easily create, prove and disprove mathematical proof. In science, evidence can renew itself by carrying out more experiments, therefore, a theory can be falsified. In science, no theory can be proven to be ’’true’’, it may only be proven to be ’’false’’.
However, since mathematics stands so far from nature, it is possible to create theories regarding a certain topic in mathematics. Mathematical theories can be generalized, argued, stated and ever changed. Evidently, there are some areas in mathematics which cannot be changed, for example the natural numbers. Natural numbers are numbers that we use and they will never be changed, because it is a contribution to the earth’s nature. Natural numbers are from 0 to infinity, and they go by a certain natural pattern, and cannot be modified in any way, hence their name. Mathematics, however, has got a similarity with the other sciences. All sciences, including maths, has a property of falsifiability. This could mean that all natural numbers are odd numbers, but that is falsified by 2, the only even natural number.
It is important to comprehend the difference between mathematics and natural sciences; you may construct and create a true or false theory, whereas in natural sciences, you can construct a theory which will most likely be false, but could possibly be true. Karl Popper’s claims and Thomas Kuhn’s claims show that science is something that can be experimented. Infact, different discoveries can be discovered using the power of natural science. Ultimately, however, all proofs and justifications of a certain scientific theory is nothing but a provisional conclusion, because like Kuhn said, with every experiment, something new may be discovered, and that is why ultimately we can never fully prove something.
However, if we compare natural science with areas of knowledge, like mathematics for example, it is somewhat of a different circumstance, because mathematics is created by mankind. Many people have mistakenly thought that mathematics can’t be proven either. Infact, areas of knowledge are the only areas where something may be proven or disproven. However, in natural sciences (chemistry, biology, physics) that deal with the physical world, cannot be proven, infact they can only be disproven because that is the nature of the world.
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University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 3 November 2016
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