The State of Science

February 21, 2016 – 11:47 am

Over the next while I will indulge myself with a few posts that bring together several strands of thought about how we think of science.  These posts will be difficult to get right. They will aspire to be sufficiently disinterested to be able to see science as a belief system, comparable in many respect to other belief systems.  That will annoy some people, because there is a great deal of aversion and intolerance for anything smelling of belief, or worse religion, in many quarters.

But this line of thought might also permit us to reconsider what a belief system is, and to recognise that any expression of knowledge, or assertion of matters of fact, must rest upon some foundation.  More challenging yet, I will probably argue that the ground upon which any one of us builds our world view is invisible to that individual.  This will introduce an anti-positivist stance, leading not to statements about how things are (no truths here), but to solicitations to negotiate, so that we may end up with the best consensual accounts possible.

There are several threads I wish to pursue, and they will interact, so that for a while, I might edit and revise any of these posts.  Perhaps they will settle to a stable equilibrium.  Perhaps they will remain in flux and fall apart.

Here are some of the topics I intend to pursue.  As with any part of these posts, the list may be retro-fitted to make it appear that my thoughts are better organised than they in fact are.

  • The notion of objectivity and its relation to scientific knowledge and practice
  • The impossibility of an objective science of behaviour
  • Consideration of the role of context
  • The basis of measurement and its relation to observation
  • The complexities of the notion of representation
  • The relation of major funding initiatives to the practice of science
  • The role of expert judgement and its similarity to divination
  • Recognising useful empirical loci to support thick description
  • The impossibility of symmetrical anthropology
  • Time, objective, lived, imaginary, illusory, real
  • Perspectives and more perspectives

Sorry, comments for this entry are closed at this time.