Example essay on science and ideology

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  • Created by: parvos98
  • Created on: 09-03-15 09:58

Assess the sociological explanations of science and ideologies as belief systems (33 marks)

Sociologists argue that science and ideology can both be belief systems. In the 18th century was the era of the enlightenment. People started to think and question was there more than just a God and that’s where science was introduced. People started to use rational ways of thinking to explain things that happened. Science has been used to develop different parts in society such as medicine and technology that we use in everyday life. But it has also caused problems such as pollution and global warming. Science has cognitive power, it can allow us to explain, predict and control the world. 

According to Popper science is an open belief system where every scientist’s theories are open to scrutiny, criticised and tested by others. He says that science is governed by the principle of falsification. This is whereby scientists set out to try and falsify existing theories, deliberately seeking evidence that would disprove them.  His theory provides evidence that nothing can ever be 100% true as they can be proven false. Such as the fact that the big bang is a theory that everyone accepts but there is much more that scientists do not know and more needed to be found therefore it could be false. It argues that there always can be more and more evidence for every theory that has ever been made and proven. Then when disproving these knowledge claims allows scientific world to grow. It is cumulative, whereby it builds on achievements of previous scientists. This explanation shows that science can be a belief system as nothing can ever be proven 100% as there will always be something or someone that will disprove a theory with other evidence and therefore people belief what they have been told. This is much like religion in a way by the fact that religion cannot be proven it is something that people belief in. 

If popper is correct then it still leaves the question of why science has grown over the last few centuries. Merton argues that science can only thrive as a major social institution if it receives support from other institutions and values. He argues that this occurred in England as a result of the values and attitudes created by the protestant reformation especially Puritanism. The beliefs that they had to study nature led appreciation of God’s works, encouraged them to experiment. They stressed social welfare and were attracted to the fact that science could produce technological inventions to improve the conditions of life. Like Popper, Merton argues that science as an institution or organised social activity needs ethos that make scientists work in a way that serves the goal of increasing scientific knowledge. He identifies four such norms, communism because scientific knowledge is not private property and they must share their findings with the scientific community. Universalism, the truth or falsity of scientific knowledge is judged by universal, objective criteria and not


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