The Scientific method purportedly achieves the deriving of objective truth by removing the unavoidably subjective nature of human knowledge from the loop.

This system claims that by following certain procedures faithfully, the knowledge resident in nature can be brought forth and 'captured' without any human intervention. How is this even remotely possible? It sounds like a form of superstition, like belief in an anthropomorphic god.

Here's a definition, if that helps; Definition of scientific method : principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses.

  • "the knowledge resident in nature " What does it mean ? – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Dec 12 '19 at 14:34
  • " 'captured' without any human intervention." Scientific knowledge is a human process/practice. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Dec 12 '19 at 14:35
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    Maybe the downvotes reflect your question not being put correctly but the question matter is significant although a bit misguided. Scientific method IS the objective study of natural laws where we purposely remove subjectivity which is personal in order to accomplish reproducible goals, engineering and modern medicine. However you are correct in stating that the subjective experience cannot be completely ruled out when describing reality as any description must involve a relative perspective one must suppose before even beginning. – Weezy Dec 12 '19 at 17:01
  • It would be helpful to see your definitions of "objective" and "objective". If "subjective" means "human-transcendent" then science purports to do no such thing, it pursues human knowledge and its applications, not those of God. And its procedures are as subject to revision based on outcomes as the knowledge itself. "Objective truth" in science merely means not dependent on individual or parochial whim, universal to some idealized, but still human, researchers. – Conifold Dec 13 '19 at 0:59
  • @conifold- If scientific discoveries were truly objective then they would conform to a standard of natural law. If so why are so many overturned by 'new' evidence. It is difficult to admit that they underpinnings of the scientific method are iffy, at best. But it is a step which needs to be considered important. By the way the practice of science, which has made possible all of the advances which have improved life and the 'theories' which support it are two separate items.. It is the flimsy belief in 'objective' knowledge which is being drawn into focus. CMS – user37981 Dec 13 '19 at 13:44

How? For starters, the characterization of the sciences you offer sounds like those of a true believer instead of a scientist or scientifically inclined theologian, say the Pope, who embraces science and evolution. But, I can offer a rational response, which you are welcome to decline and downvote in your efforts to proselytize. Given your references to your faith in Scripture, and from your bio:

The work required to bring [Spinoza's] massive accomplishments to the attention of the widest audience possible will require the participation of as many like minded [sic] souls as possible who are willing to assist. The resurgence in Spinoza research and explosion of commentary within the extant, indicate that something important is afoot.

Now, to address your question, not as a believer, but a skeptic, it follows such:

One. There is no ONE scientific method; varieties of the method create the philosophical problem of the demarcation of science. So, immediately you start with a canard. When one has a genuine desire to understand science, one appeals to contemporary philosophy of science for understanding, not a mischaracterization of science that is favorable to one's metaphysical presuppositions. Each flavor of science whether biological or physical, natural or social is effective generally, though each has limitations. One cannot pray rockets to the moon.

Two. Good scientists don't practice science faithfully, though scientism can be seen. Rather good scientists practice science skeptically, because they believe that faith is a poor pathway to objective facts. Some scientists become philosophers and are concerned with truth certainly, but post-postivistic philosophy of science concedes fallibilism which many scientists accept as a given since the program of the logical empiricists and postivists failed spectacularly. No serious philosopher of science pushes the idea that subjectivity can be removed from the method, since everything from observations to experimentation to theory selection is value-laden. Some scientists believe that it is not even possible to know "reality" and accept the inherent limitations of thought and are known as instrumentalists. In short, philosophers of science concede that scientists are inherently biased one-way or another, which should have been a surprise to no one, though it still seems to stun certain thinkers. Thus the necessity of peer-review.

Three. SOME philosophers of science believe that knowledge does not "reside" in nature, as a "soul" resides in a body. Post-Cartesian duality, it has become clear to many philosophers of the mind, including but not limited to Gilbert Ryle, Jaegwon Kim, Daniel Dennett, and others, that propositional knowledge is an organization of the brain based on experiences. Far from being a superstition, thought is generally acknowledged to be a phenomenon whose behavior and basis is rooted in the central nervous and endocrine systems, and is best embodied by the slogan, no-brains, no-minds. This, of course, is reasonable since it comports with common sense and everyday experience.

In your prior question, you ask after the nature of philosophy and talk about those who use mathematics, science, and formal logic as a tool and those who avoid it favoring "natural language". To understand the analytical philosophical tradition, the quotation from the article by Russell:

Modern analytical empiricism [...] differs from that of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume by its incorporation of mathematics and its development of a powerful logical technique. It is thus able, in regard to certain problems, to achieve definite answers, which have the quality of science rather than of philosophy. It has the advantage, in comparison with the philosophies of the system-builders, of being able to tackle its problems one at a time, instead of having to invent at one stroke a block theory of the whole universe. Its methods, in this respect, resemble those of science.

Given your question:

The Scientific method purportedly achieves the deriving of objective truth by removing the unavoidably subjective nature of human knowledge from the loop. This system claims that by following certain procedures faithfully, the knowledge resident in nature can be brought forth and 'captured' without any human intervention. How is this even remotely possible? It sounds like a form of superstition, like belief in an anthropomorphic god.

Mystical, faithful, and transcendent might be used to characterize the philosophy of Spinoza, but I welcome any contemporary philosophical references that characterize science that way because the philosophy of science has a strong factual history rooted in the rational, empirical, skeptical, and common-sensical methods.


Can one speak unambiguously of “The” Scientific Method?

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  • @JD- It is not clear how your emotionally charged 'ad hominem' attack adds anything to the discussion. You could rethink that. The purpose to this question and the way it is phrased is intended to draw attention to the inconsistency between the actual practice of science and the theories which underpin it. It is vital that a new recognition of the human-as-agent and the fact that the only reasonable assumption to make is that all scientific methodology and resultant discoveries can only derive from an amalgam and equal partnership between the human mind and extended nature. No objectivity! CS – user37981 Dec 13 '19 at 13:52
  • You seem like a decent enough fellow, but emotions have nothing to do with your mischaracterization of the sciences as scientism or my response. The argument very clearly addresses your mischaracterization in a neutral and non-inflammatory fashion. I highlighted your faith because I think it is the source of your attribution of objectivity to science that might apply to science 100 years ago, but no longer applies. Science since the '60s has largely been understood as intersubjective. – J D Dec 13 '19 at 14:54
  • I am sympathetic to your struggle to understand why so many people value science; I think many people who need certainty struggle to understand how the skeptical mind works. You're absolutely right in attacking scientism as just another religion; you do confuse science with scientism thoroughly. – J D Dec 13 '19 at 14:58
  • To be fair, your edits have changed the posting significantly; I will address your other post soon enough. – J D Dec 13 '19 at 14:59

This system claims that by following certain procedures faithfully, the knowledge resident in nature can be brought forth and 'captured' without any human intervention. How is this even remotely possible? It sounds like a form of superstition, like belief in an anthropomorphic god.

You are sort of right. This view of science is, as one great scientist used to say, not even wrong.

'Knowledge resident in nature' is a nice sound bite but actually meaningless. Nature behaves as it does; it has no encoded equations that we can see. Sure, we can deduce equations that seem to match it's behaviour, but usually we find out that these equations are not quite right. Newton was fine (and still is for most purposes) but it became obvious that some things needed changing. Einstein came up with some adjustments which seem correct so far, as does Quantum Mechanics, but we know that there is a mismatch between them and so there must be another set of more accurate equations.

'Without any human intervention' is pure drivel. Science is a very human activity; it has an understanding that humans are biased in various ways and has built in methods to try to discover and correct those biases.

Your third para has a reasonable definition, as far as it goes, but is very simplistic. The Scientific Method is complex enough that many people have written books about it, as I'm sure you know.

As to your title question no, science is not always objective and is very often wrong in absolute terms. But it makes ever-more accurate approximations. Will we ever know something absolutely? Science can tell us that something is definitely wrong, but never that it is definitely right. Given that scientists know this, and that the scientific Method has self-checking methods built in I'd say science has a pretty objective view of itself, and that seems to be the best we can do.

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  • The point behind all this is that without a definable ethos which can be applied to ongoing scientific research, the notion of pure science adjudicating its own validity leaves us without any ethical grounds for deciding right from wrong. CMS – user37981 Dec 13 '19 at 17:05
  • The validity of science is adjudicated by the results it produces; scientific theories fail when the math, logic, experiment, or so on fails to predict, fails verification, leads to contradiction. The purpose of science is not to provide ethical grounds, though it may inform it. Ethical grounds are an entirely different pursuit and product and have to do with human morality and values in the normative sense. Hindus, Muslims, Christians, and athiests can set aside highly emotional and subjective questions of morality and ethics and do math, logic, and experiment together by consensus. – J D Dec 14 '19 at 22:00
  • See Gould's NOMA. – J D Dec 14 '19 at 22:00

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