Philosophy of Science Essay

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Science has been described as "an organized search for knowledge" (Appiah, 1999, p. 87). Based on this, it can be said that science aims at gaining knowledge. However, it is not as clear whether or not science is aiming at uncovering the truth. In fact, trying to determine what the purpose of science raises some major philosophical questions.


An attempt to answer the question will now be made by considering each of these areas.
The first question that needs to be asked is what truth is and how it relates to knowledge. This question has been considered in detail by Plato. In his dialogue Theaetutus, Plato asks the question 'what is knowledge' and then attempts to determine what criteria can be used to decide whether someone has knowledge. Plato makes an important distinction between knowledge and belief, where knowledge is something that can be known to be true. For Plato, a person does not have knowledge if what they think they know is incorrect. The basis to determine if something is correct or incorrect cannot come from within the mind, but must come from some external source. For example, consider the case of people who once believed that the world was round. According to Plato's focus, this was a belief and was not knowledge because it was not able to be verified. This leads to Plato's conclusion that there are three criteria that define something as knowledge: you must believe it; it must be true; and you must be justified in believing it (Plato, 1948, p. 97). This philosophy of Plato's shows that knowledge and truth and treated the same, since something is only considered as knowledge if it is true. ...
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