The Question of a Universal Scientific Methodology

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
Concerning the question of a single logic and methodology in doing science. Can science really replace a metaphysics?

Submitted: January 13, 2013

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Submitted: January 13, 2013




In the laboratory at CERN, a large particle collider breaks down atoms, creating mini black holes, nuclear explosion, and massive energy emissions at the flick of a second even fewer than it at the level of a millionth second. At an instance, one could replicate the Big bang and indicate the essential factors which led to it. When two atoms collide they react and the result is transferred into a complex network of computers and machines whose role is to analyze the data and transform a raw event, occurring at light speed, into descriptions understood by the human intellect. A group of scientists will then transform the data into mathematical equations and describe the data with refinement relating it to previous findings. Scientists are preoccupied with describing and coming into conclusion about the present phenomena at hand. The states of affairs conceived presently are raw data albeit perceived in a computer and translated into comprehensible language if mathematics. The initial action would be to fit the data into a present paradigm in quantum physics and we that there are various conceptions and theories in quantum physics. Let us take the “M Theory” and the “String theory.” Both seek to explain the genesis of the universe, through the qualities of sub-atomic particles. These physicists often have contrary views on describing quantum data and different equations in looking at quantum mechanics. String theorists, for that part, believe that sub-atomic particles vibrate like strings emitting the other elements as it goes into a perpetual adumbration, creating elements then the universe. Believers of the M theory hold that there are multiverses instead of a universe and each universe within a community of multiverses are created individualy, within its own space-time continuum.

Let us compare another science. The first experimental psychologists began to describe mental phenomena through various experiments on reaction time, association, memory and introspection. Wundt and his students found out that mental phenomena are described faithfully through introspection while the Wurzburg school, reacting against Wundt, believed otherwise. They described mental phenomena through various tests on association and mental processing by showing non-sense words to the subject. Psychology unlike the other science above, physics, do not enjoy a common definition. There are many views on psychology, depending on the school of thought. The behaviourist defined it as a study of behaviour, while psycho-analysts defined it as a study of the unconscious. Although both schools of thought employ experimentation, they have different ways of interpreting data from their subjects, thus different ways of experimenting with them, similar to the physicist.

When they come to a conclusion, the logic which they use would vary. Rom Harre shows three methods of reasoning mainly: the inductionism, falsificationism and positivism. His discussion expresses the difficulities and the consequences, if we accept one form of reasoning over the other, as a universal norm. The Canons of Mill (an inductionist logic), he says are limited, but offer standard operating procedures when dealing with complex phenomena. Observation of sub-atomic particles yields different results. When the Higgs-Boson particle was found, it was a titanic discovery, but where to put it in the present paradigm of quantum physics is the question. In that situation, we see that handling of data is the key. If we employ Mill’s Canons, then we can properly situate it within the present description of sub-atomic particles and the discoverers of that particle claim that they have found the particle that holds all particles in place. Like all scientific findings, it is prone to attacks by other scientists who have contrary views (e.g. Stephen Hawking first denied such particle). This brings Popper’s falsificationism to the fore as an effective way of running around with scientific theories and verifies the other. Harre believed that this theory could make science hide in the dark in an endless trail of verification and falsification.

Therefore, it brings us to a halt, how then should we view scientific reasoning? Can we accept then a single form of reasoning in science? Arguments of falsifiability push the boundaries of scientific theories but they do not prove the veracity of the other, but only provide further conditions for further studies on the phenomena. We have to accept that nature is more complex than our own theories and equations describing it. Various logical processes do have various ways of looking at data, and construction of laws and theories; but since each contain its own limitations, we cannot accept a single form of reasoning as a single norm of reasoning. Therefore, we have to rely on all these forms of reasoning to deduce essentially or arrive at essentials with induction are all acceptable forms of reasoning. They could faithfully describe natural phenomena (May it be objects or the human mind). The complexity of nature boggles the human mind and the theories written to describe them quarrel with each other, one side sees the other side as well. In diversity lies the beauty of science. The burden of proving one’s theory occurs within a community of scientists and dialogue should not cease among them. The role of falsification and deduction can aid the community to further process the findings of one upon another. Considering this, a community of scientists depends on nature to open herself and reveal the beauties it contains. 

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