Science as a belief system 1

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  • Science as a belief system 1
    • Impact of science
      • Medicine, transport, communication, technology has all advanced through the use of science.
      • But has caused problems too: wars, polution, weapons of mas destruction.
      • Different to other belief systems as it is a cognitive power: enables us to explain, predict and control the world.
    • Open and closed belief systems
      • Popper - science is an 'open' belief system as scientists theories can be criticised and tested by others.
      • Governed by falsificationism where they try to test existing theories to see if they are valid through experiments and observations.
      • Enables scientific understanding of the world as it is cumulative - building on previous achievements to develop a greater understanding.
      • Criticisms
        • No theory can be taken as defiantly true as it can be easily proven wrong by evidence that disproves it.
      • Closed - Herton - religion and magic are closed as they make knowledge-claims that cannot be successfully overturned.
    • CUDOS norms
      • Merton - science only thrives in major social institutions if it receives support from other institutions.
        • E.g. England - due to Protestant Reformation which stressed social welfare which attracted science to produce technological inventions to improve the conditions of life.
      • Sees science as an organised social activity has a set of norms that promote the growth of knowledge by encouraging openness.
      • Communism - knowledge must be shared with the scientific community.
      • Universalism - scientific knowledge is judged by universal, objective criteria (testing).
      • Dis- interestedness - seeking knowledge for its own sake.
      • Organised Scepticism - every theory is open to criticism and testing.
    • Witchcraft
      • Azande believe natural events have nautral causes and misfortune is due to someone practising witchcraft against them.
      • This is a belief system as it performs useful social functions such as preventing grudges and encourages neighbours to behave considerately.
      • This belief system is an important social control mechanism ensuring conformity and cooperation.
    • Framework of ideas that allows individuals to make sense of the world. It can go beyond ideologies and take on religious explanations.


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