The Validation of Scientific Theories

The Validation of Scientific Theories

The Validation of Scientific Theories

The Validation of Scientific Theories

Excerpt

Among the disparaging judgments about science that have been uttered since the rise of modern science about 1700 until our own century there has been the assertion that science does not give us the "truth" about the universe but only an abstract model which may be useful as a "working hypothesis." This assertion has become popular in our own period in connection with the complaint that the emphasis upon science in our educational system is responsible for the decline of belief in spiritual and moral values and, perhaps, in human values altogether. Quite a few educators have urged that more emphasis should be given to the studies of "humanities" like philosophy, literature, history, and religion. On the other hand, there has been, in this country, grave concern about the declining number of science students, which leads, in turn, to a scarcity of science teachers and so on, in a spiral. The increasing unpopularity of science as a chosen field of the high school curriculum has also been traced back to the alleged lack of human values in the sciences. Quite a few leading educators in the field of science have surmised that the social and family background of high school students have imbued them with a certain aversion against a field from which so little about human values or about how to live can be learnt. Since, anyway, science, and particularly, physical science, is "hard" to learn, a certain drift away from science is understandable.

In order to obtain a basis from which one can pronounce sound judgment about this situation, one should put the question: In what sense does science search for the "truth" about the universe? This "truth" certainly does not consist of "facts" but of general hypotheses or theories. What we call "facts" in the strictly em-

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