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Author Topic:   Is Science the Search for Objective Truth in an Objective Reality
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 1 of 64 (368395)
12-08-2006 9:01 AM


This question is really about the scientific method and what underpins it.
Science is not just a method in the way that it is so often characterised. Science is an attitude to learning and investigation that differs from all others because it continually measures it's results against reality. The methods of science have been developed as the best means of negating bias, filtering out falsehoods and achieving the most accurate results when researching the physical world.
Independenetly repeatable research, verification through prediction, refutation of hypotheses through experimentation, statisitical error analysis, peer review etc etc etc.
These are all components of the scientific method but what underlies them and makes science what it is in the first place?
It seems to me that implicit in the scientific method is an assumption that there is an objective reality and that science is the quest to better understand this objective reality by discovering universal truths.
When we "do science" what are we testing our theories against? What makes one theory better than another? When we include experimental errors in results is there conceivably a result that is without error (i.e. a truth)?

My question is - Does there need to be an objective reality with universal truths for the scientific method to be valid?
Is it possible to be a scientist and not believe in an objective reality containing ultimate truths?


Replies to this message:
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AdminNosy
Administrator
Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 64 (368408)
12-08-2006 10:09 AM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 64 (368423)
12-08-2006 11:07 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Straggler
12-08-2006 9:01 AM


Does there need to be an objective reality with universal truths for the scientific method to be valid?

No. The scientific method is just as predictive inside The Matrix as it would be in "real life". Science is the search for the predictive model, not the search for truth.

A lot of people get that wrong, though. No surprise - the results of science are typically so useful that they seem so true.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 9:01 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-08-2006 11:14 AM crashfrog has responded
 Message 5 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 11:20 AM crashfrog has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 64 (368425)
12-08-2006 11:14 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by crashfrog
12-08-2006 11:07 AM


The scientific method is just as predictive inside The Matrix as it would be in "real life". Science is the search for the predictive model, not the search for truth.

That is the reason that I don't find the lack of scientific evidence for anything 'supernatural' as sufficient to conclude that the supernatural does not exist (and especially when supernatural is defined as 'undetectable' a priori).


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by crashfrog, posted 12-08-2006 11:07 AM crashfrog has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 11:24 AM New Cat's Eye has responded
 Message 12 by crashfrog, posted 12-08-2006 11:40 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 5 of 64 (368426)
12-08-2006 11:20 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by crashfrog
12-08-2006 11:07 AM


Matrix?
But is the matrix itself not formed within a physical reality that has laws that exist in objective reality external to the matrix?
How could the matrix itself exist if that were not so?

Also if not a degree of verisimilitude what is it that makes one predictive model better than another?

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


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Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Phalanx, posted 12-08-2006 11:27 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 8 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-08-2006 11:34 AM Straggler has not yet responded
 Message 9 by crashfrog, posted 12-08-2006 11:38 AM Straggler has not yet responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 6 of 64 (368428)
12-08-2006 11:24 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by New Cat's Eye
12-08-2006 11:14 AM


Success of science
On what do you conclude the success and progress of science if not an increasing understanding of reality.

Supernatural to me does not mean undetectable. In the context of EvC it usually means unable to question scientifically (i.e. using te scientific method) and I dispute that there is anything that has physical consequences in the real world to which that can apply.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-08-2006 11:14 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-08-2006 11:39 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 13 by crashfrog, posted 12-08-2006 11:40 AM Straggler has responded

  
Phalanx
Member (Idle past 3789 days)
Posts: 31
From: Old Bridge, NJ, US
Joined: 10-12-2006


Message 7 of 64 (368429)
12-08-2006 11:27 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Straggler
12-08-2006 11:20 AM


Re: Matrix?
Yes, it does. But can you measure that objective reality if you're measuring from within the matrix?

Maybe I missed the point of the OP, but, isn't this a question of being able to measure the objective reality?


And the Ignorant shall fall to the Squirrels - Chip 2:54
This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 11:20 AM Straggler has responded

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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 8 of 64 (368430)
12-08-2006 11:34 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Straggler
12-08-2006 11:20 AM


Re: Matrix?
The point is that if we were in the Matrix using science, we would never discover that we were, in fact, in the matrix. Science would just be constrained to be 'inside' the matrix while the objective reality would be that we were sitting in those bathtubs, not going to work everyday.
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 9 of 64 (368431)
12-08-2006 11:38 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Straggler
12-08-2006 11:20 AM


Re: Matrix?
But is the matrix itself not formed within a physical reality that has laws that exist in objective reality external to the matrix?

Yeah, but that doesn't mean using science within the matrix develops predictive models about reality. In fact, that's the point of the matrix - it's a set of rules that are different from reality, so therefore predictive models developed based on observations arising from the rules of the matrix are only valid under the rules of the matrix. Since the matrix insulates you from observations of the rules of reality, the scientific method within the matrix isn't able to develop models that would be valid under the "real" rules.

(Did all that bake your noodle, or what?)


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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 64 (368432)
12-08-2006 11:39 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Straggler
12-08-2006 11:24 AM


Re: Success of science
On what do you conclude the success and progress of science if not an increasing understanding of reality.

I don't conclude that. I'm saying that the supernatural could be existing out of reach of scientific discovery all the while science is conclude that it doesn't even exist at all. As long as the model and predictions don't fail, science would be blind to a whole aspect of the 'objective reality' that the supernatural does exist.

I dispute that there is anything that has physical consequences in the real world to which that can apply.

We've discussed the elsewhere here. I think I was along the lines of the supernatural comming in and out of physical interaction. For example, if someone saw a ghost we'd say the ghost is interacting physically, but then what if the ghost could then become undetectable after that, the the detectable again some time later, and then not. It would be hard to gather scientific/physical evidence of that ghost, and especially if it was intellegent and evaiding proof of its existance.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 11:24 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 11:51 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


(1)
Message 11 of 64 (368433)
12-08-2006 11:39 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Phalanx
12-08-2006 11:27 AM


Re: Matrix?
My question is - Does the scientific method make sense without the implicit assumption of an external objective reality?

I think talk of a matrix etc. is a red herring as eventually there will be a reality in which the matrix exists and the matrix itself will be built on scientific principles of cause and effect.

If there is no objective reality against which scientific theories are measured against then what does it mean to say one theory is superior to another? What does it mean to say one experiment contains less errors than another?

Forget the matrix this is about the scientific method and the implict unspoken assumptions that are made when undertaking scientific investigation.

I don't claim to know the answer but I obviously have a bias and suggest for the sake of debate that without an objective reality the scientific method has no basis.
I would therefore conclude that the success of the scientifc method implies that there is necessarily an objective reality out there whether we can ever truly grasp it or not.


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Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 12 of 64 (368434)
12-08-2006 11:40 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by New Cat's Eye
12-08-2006 11:14 AM


That is the reason that I don't find the lack of scientific evidence for anything 'supernatural' as sufficient to conclude that the supernatural does not exist (and especially when supernatural is defined as 'undetectable' a priori).

I guess, but if you've defined the supernatural as undetectable, then by necessity it's irrelevant - there's no such thing as an undetectable effect, since its by effect that we know something happened.

Define the supernatural to be undetectable is you wish, but in doing so, you've rendered the supernatural completely powerless in the natural world, and how is that fundamentally different than saying the supernatural doesn't exist?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-08-2006 11:14 AM New Cat's Eye has responded

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crashfrog
Inactive Member


Message 13 of 64 (368435)
12-08-2006 11:40 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by Straggler
12-08-2006 11:24 AM


Re: Success of science
On what do you conclude the success and progress of science if not an increasing understanding of reality.

By how predictive the models are. Better models make more accurate predictions than lesser models. Technology is the ultimate "prediction" of any model; the predicition is "this will always happen under these circumstances."

Edited by crashfrog, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 6 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 11:24 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
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New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 64 (368436)
12-08-2006 11:44 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Straggler
12-08-2006 11:39 AM


Re: Matrix?
Does the scientific method make sense without the implicit assumption of an external objective reality?

Yes, as long as the models and predictions work, it doesn't matter if they are describing real 'reality' or some closed system contain within reality that is not itself objective reality. But I guess that example still requires the objective reality around the closed system, even though I don't actually think it is required.

If there is no objective reality against which scientific theories are measured against then what does it mean to say one theory is superior to another? What does it mean to say one experiment contains less errors than another?

Lacking falsifying evidence and having supporting evidence.

I would therefore conclude that the success of the scientifc method implies that there is necessarily an objective reality out there whether we can ever truly grasp it or not.

Yes, it certqainly seems to suggest that there is an objective reality but I don't think it is neccessary.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 11:39 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 20 by Straggler, posted 12-08-2006 12:01 PM New Cat's Eye has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 15 of 64 (368437)
12-08-2006 11:49 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by crashfrog
12-08-2006 11:40 AM


I guess, but if you've defined the supernatural as undetectable, then by necessity it's irrelevant - there's no such thing as an undetectable effect, since its by effect that we know something happened.

But you assume that affecting physical reality makes it detectable. Couldn't something supernatural affect physical reality in a specific scenario (and not all scenarios while being scientifically undetectable. I just don't think that being undetectable means that it can't affect anything and is irrelevant.

Define the supernatural to be undetectable is you wish, but in doing so, you've rendered the supernatural completely powerless in the natural world,

I don't think so.

and how is that fundamentally different than saying the supernatural doesn't exist?

Because it could exist as undetectable while not being powerless.

Let's say you drop a cannon ball and some supernatural power causes it to fly striaght up into outerspace right before your eyes. This would not be able to be explained scientifically. The source of the force could be unable to be detected even if the force itself could be measured.

AABE: in that scenario the supernatural entitiy would not be powerless but would still be undetectable

Edited by Catholic Scientist, : No reason given.


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