Sunday, September 15, 2013

Yes it’s all science Larry but not as you know it!

Spring extending and test-tube precipitating science may not be the best epistemic models for sociology.

I was glad to see that in his post here atheist Larry Moran advocates a fairly broad brush approach to the definition of science and one that doesn't exclude history and other “soft science” disciplines like, say, sociology. I'm inclined to agree with him on this. In its most general form “science” is a matter of juxtaposing theoretical narratives with experience (See my side bar) in order to make “best” sense of that experience. But this definition covers a very variegated range of epistemic activity because:

a) Ontologies vary in their amenability to the “checks” of direct experience.
b) Subjective factors as to what constitutes “best fit” introduce ambiguities, especially with complex ontologies
c) The spring extending and test tube precipitating sciences are often a misleading epistemic model for the highly open ended ontologies of complex objects.
d) Standards of scientific rigor vary with ontology and discipline.

Because the conception of science being proposed here is itself highly open ended Larry Moran might be very alarmed to learn that he has now embraced a conception of scientific epistemology so broad that even theology becomes a science! After all, theology too attempts to make sense of experience with theoretical narratives. However, the ontology theology is claiming to deal with means that one can’t expect the standards of spring extending and test tube precipitating science to apply! However, it ironic that fideist religionists and Larry Moran, although at opposite polarities, are nevertheless on the same spectrum of epistemic activity in their attempts to make sense of experience. But they are so widely separated that it seems to them that they have “ways of knowing” that are qualitatively different and don’t see themselves as occupying the same boat called “sense-making”.

In the broadest sense of the term "science" covers a very wide spectrum of epistemic activity, from the highly formal and institutionalised methods of establishment science to the informal juggling that goes on as a truth seeker tries to make sense of his experience with a world view. In this context closed-ended toy-town models of science are seen for what they are; that is, as theoretical structures that fail to do justice to one's real experience of cut and thrust epistemic endeavour.

Toy-town science has been put on a pedestal by some.

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