Science and Ideology Revision - A2 Sociology, Beliefs in Society

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Latifah Davis-Cole
The impact of science
Has had an enormous impact on society over the last few centuries.
Success had led to a widespread `faith in science'
Science causes problems as well as solves them, for example, pollution/global warming
Open belief systems
Popper: Science is an `open' belief system where every scientist's theories are open to change,
criticism and testing by others.
Science is governed by Falsificationism ­ when scientists set out to try and falsify existing
theories, deliberately seeking evidence that will prove their theory wrong.
If evidence contradicts a theory, theory can be discarded and the search for a better explanation
can begin.
In popper's view, the key thing about scientific knowledge is that it is not sacred or the full truth,
it is always open to scrutiny.
The CUDOS Norms ­ Merton
Argues like Popper, that science as an institution needs a set of norms that makes scientists reach
their goal ­ increasing scientific knowledge
He identified four norms, known as `CUDOS'
Communism Scientific knowledge is not private. Scientific knowledge must be shared
amongst the scientific community.
Universalism The truth or falsity of scientific knowledge is judged by universal objective
Disinterestedness Being committed to discovering knowledge for knowledge sake.
Organised Scepticism No knowledge claim is regarded as sacred. Every idea is open to questioning
and criticism.
Closed belief systems
Its knowledge is sacred
Cannot be challenged and those who do so may be punished, for example: Hell
Religious knowledge does not change ­ the absolute truth
Religion, magic and many other belief systems are closed. That is, they make knowledge claims
that cannot be successfully overturned.
Self-sustaining beliefs
Polyani: Argues that beliefs have three systems to withstand themselves w/contradicting evidence
Circularity: Each idea in the system is explained in terms of another idea. Round and round.
Subsidiary explanations: If the oracle fails, it may be explained away as due to the incorrect use of
the benge.

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Latifah Davis-Cole
Denial of legitimacy to rivals: Beliefs systems reject alternative worldviews.
Science as a closed system
Polyani: argues that all belief systems reject challenges to their knowledge-claims ­ science is no
Kuhn: argues biology or physics is based on a set of shared assumptions that he calls a paradigm
that tells scientists what reality is like, what problems to study and what methods and equipment
to use.…read more

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Latifah Davis-Cole
It is therefore possible for the w.class to develop class consciousness and overthrow capitalism
Abercrombie: argues that is economic factors such as the fear of unemployment that keeps
workers from rebelling
Karl Mannheim: Ideology and Utopia
o Sees ALL belief system as partial or a one-sided worldview.
o Their one-sidedness results from being the viewpoint of one particular group.
Distinguishes between two broad types of belief systems:
1. Ideological thought: Justifies keeping things as they are.…read more


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