What is Truth? Not Scientific Theory

Masood Mortazavi and Geoff Arnold recently debated the concept of "truth" on BSC (blogs.sun.com). I appreciated the pointer to:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/t/truth.htm

Here, the "International Encyclopedia of Philosophy" [IEP] defines "truth".  They suggest that "The principal issue is: What is truth?". Ironically (I say that because philosophy and religion seldom mix) in John 18:38, that exact question is asked of Jesus:

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?book_id=50&chapter=18&verse=38

At the end of the page on truth, the IEP summarizes that science really isn't about truth, but simply about describing hopefully useful models that allow us to predict and extrapolate the impact of actions and responses in meaningful ways. For example, a scientific model of gravity was useful to the original human "computers" that calculated ballistic trajectory for weapon systems. The formula was certainly useful, but not "true". Here is what the IEP says at the end of their description:

Giere recommends saying science aims for the best available 'representation', in the same sense that maps are representations of the landscape. Maps aren't true; rather, they fit to a better or worse degree. Similarly, scientific theories are designed to fit the world. Scientists should not aim to create true theories; they should aim to construct theories whose models are representations of the world.

That really makes sense to me. It is important to remember that representative models (aka: "scientific theories") are often incrementally refined (and occasionally rejected and reworked) over time, as we attempt to improve the approximation of perceived reality. This is a natural result of our insatiable appetite for scientific discovery. Even when a theory is repeatable and validated thru experimentation, this does not "prove" the theory as true... but simply gives us additional confidence that the model is useful within the context and range of the observations and experiments to which the model has been subjected.

Too often some will lock on to a particular model (aka: scientific theory) in its current form and declare it as irrefutable truth! Just look at the theory of evolution! Wow - talk about a religious topic for some who hold that science has "proven" as fact a model. Evolution is particularly weak because it is based on blind/partial observation without experimental validation. This model is under increasing attack from the scientific community itself. As a lover of science, I applaud those who look forward to the evolution of the theory of evolution (and every other scientific theory), and who promote with an open mind scientific discovery and the reworking of obsolete or incomplete models. I'm particularly interested in "myth busting" theories to which the scientific community holds to with religious fervor. That in itself should be a red flag that a philosophical agenda has blinded their purity.

Comments:

Post a Comment:
Comments are closed for this entry.
About

dcb

Search

Archives
« April 2014
SunMonTueWedThuFriSat
  
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
   
       
Today
News
Blogroll

No bookmarks in folder