science as a belief system

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  • Created by: Gemma
  • Created on: 06-04-12 13:41

Science and technology have had an enormous impact on society over the last few centuries, undermining religion and leading to a widespread 'faith in science'. Science enables us to explain, predict and control the world.

Science as an open belief system

Popper (1959) claims science is an 'open belief system' open to criticism and testing.

  • Science is based on the principle of 'falsification' : scientists try to falsify existing theories by seeking evidence to disprove them. If evidence contradicts a theory, the theory is discarded and a better one sought. This is how knowledge grows. 
  • However, scientific knowledge is not absolute truth. It can always be tested and potentially falsified. 

Merton (1973) argues that science as an organised social activity has a set of norms (CUDOS) 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) 
  • Disinterestedness - seeking knowledge for…


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