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Many many times do I meet opposition of my views. I bring about questions that intrigue many. I also get flack from critics doing there best to dissuade or in rare cases attempt to put down. Some wonder why i have such eccentric views. Some just ignore me. So today I will give you a honest approach of how I see science the world and how I view others who do not agree with my view.
I am a instrumentalist, by which I means that I think that scientific theories are "instruments" that are useful in modelling nature as opposed to embodiments of truth. However, I'm not an instrumentalist in the wider philosophical sense of thinking that ideas are only true if they're useful (a position held, so far as I can discern).
I think that ideas are true if they're true and false if they're false, and that the axes of truth and utility are not coincident. There are plenty of things that are true but of very little use, and there are also plenty of things(such as Newtonian mechanics) that we know to be false and yet are extremely handy in practice.
The great value of scientific theories is not their supposed truth, but rather their extreme usefulness. Indeed, scientific explanations of the world are among the most useful (and beautiful) structures ever devised by human intellect.
The idea that science is the search for truth is an old one, but it's not true (at least in any useful way!). Instead of considering all of science, I'll restrict my attention to physics, because that's the field in which the ideas of "theory", "truth" and so on are easiest to describe. Let's consider what it would mean for a physical theory to be true. A theory in physics is a mathematical structure of some kind together with a mapping from that structure (or perhaps some subset thereof) to entities that are postulated to exist in reality and their behaviours.
The mapping is often called an "interpretation" of the theory. A theory might then be considered to be true if those postulated entities are things that really exist and the behaviours inherent in the theory are the ways those entities really behave In other words, a true theory is an exact representation of some aspect of reality. If science were a search for truth, then the structures and relationships in successive scientific theories in a given field would presumably have to be successively more like the structures and relationships that exist out there in the world. But this isn't the case!
The problem with the idea of science as the search for truth is that successive theories often contain structures that are utterly unlike each other. Even if we are destined to finally arrive at a theory of everything, we must surely doubt that the entities in our current theories bear even the slightest resemblance to the deep structures of the world. For example, the central mathematical structures in classical mechanics are the tangent or cotangent bundles over the configuration manifold, neither of which is in anything other than the vaguest sense like the Hilbert spaces of quantum mechanics. In classical mechanics, observables are functions on the aforementioned bundles, whereas in quantum mechanics they're Hermitian operators. In whatever finally replaces quantum mechanics, they'll most likely be something just as different. In our theories of spacetime, the changes between successive theories have not yet been so great. If lets say the new theory of spin foam becomes our best theory for gravity we'd face an even more extremely change than that seen in the transition to quantum mechanics: from a picture of space as a continuous manifold to a picture of space as a graph of spins. Even if we limit ourselves to a single theory, the idea that its structures map onto structures in the world is problematic, because the same theory can be formulated in lots of different ways.
Are the things really out in the world the matrices of Heisenberg mechanics or the wave-functions of Schrödinger's wave mechanics? There's also the problem that even if we restrict our attention to just one formulation of one theory, there are multiple possible interpretations (only one of which, presumably, even has a chance of being true). The obvious example here is once again quantum mechanics, which is surrounded by a cloud of interpretations of varying levels of acceptability.
If physics isn't a search for truth, then what is it? That's simple: as I've said before, it's the search for useful theories! In other words, physics is the search for theories about the universe that are ever more comprehensive and which ever more closely match experimental data. It is not cumulative: we don't learn one "law of nature" and then another. Nor is is always gradual: later theories are often radically unlike earlier ones. It is not the bolting on of ever more elaborate epicycles .
So why do people persist in seeing physics (and the rest of science) as the search for truth? Some people seem to worry that if science is anything less than the search for Truth then the whole edifice will be swept away by the deluge of postmodernist philosophy that claims that no way of viewing the world is better than any other. But the whole world is so full of evidence for the efficacy of science and the pathetic inadequacy of supposed "alternative ways of knowing" that this seems unlikely, at least outside the involuted world of "critical theory". A second source of confusion is the lingering presence of the discredited idea of inductionism.
Inductionism is the idea that science works by performing lots of experimental measurements and then "inducing" laws of nature from them. For example, we might measure the strength of electrical forces at difference distances from charges and induce the inverse square law of electrostatics. From this vantage point, science might indeed look like a search for truth, because at any stage we could increase the accuracy of our experiments and hence the fit of our induced law with reality: we might go from an inverse 2±0.2 power law to an inverse 2±0.1 power law to an inverse 2±0.01 power law... And, because induction would work "backwards" from the data to theory, whatever theory is induced must be "true". Surpisingly many people think science works like this, but it doesn't.
There are many problems with inductionism that has caused it to be generally discarded, most of which I'll not discuss here. One of them is that given a certain quantity of experimental data there are an infinity of theories that "pass through" the data points, and nothing to choose between them. Naive inductionists don't realise this, and think that a given heap of experimental results allows the induction of a unique theory. Instead, scientists propose new theories that solve problems with existing theories (where a "problem" might be a misfit between two or more theories, a lack of elegance or computational power in a single theory, or a misfit between predictions and data), and then discard the ones that are disproven by experimental tests (in particular, by carefully selecting experimental tests that rule out all but one of the "in play" theories).
The problem with this is that physical theories always refer to things beyond what we measure. Physicists look at problems with current physical theories, the clash between quantum theory and relativity, or the problem of how to actually build a quantum computer or whatever and they try to solve these problems. They propose solutions to these problems and then criticise them according to whether or not they provide good explanations.
Physics is not primarily about truth, for there are an infinity of possible structures in our theories that go beyond what we measure, there's no way to reduce this infinity to just one, and only one could be true. Just to remember that this is only one small part of science overall.
So in perspective"useful theories survive. As time goes on evolution, which was once very useful is being replaced with newer and more significant(useful) theories. This is not to discredit evolution. But even a king of the hill will eventually come down.
This I hope helps explain my perspective to my fellow forum users.
Now to the second part of this address. My critics, how i love them so. How do I view you? No names need to be mentioned. You only have to look at what we know for a fairly consistent view of my critics ideology. Tell me if these fit you?
1. There is a stable, coherent, knowable self. This self is conscious, rational, autonomous, and universal—no physical conditions or differences substantially affect how this self operates.
2. This self knows itself and the world through reason, or rationality, posited as the highest form of mental functioning, and the only objective form.
3. The mode of knowing produced by the objective rational self is "science," which can provide universal truths about the world, regardless of the individual status of the knower.
4. The knowledge produced by science is "truth," and is eternal.
5. The knowledge/truth produced by science (by the rational objective knowing self) will always lead toward progress and perfection. All human institutions and practices can be analyzed by science (reason/objectivity) and improved.
6. Reason is the ultimate judge of what is true, and therefore of what is right, and what is good (what is legal and what is ethical). Freedom consists of obedience to the laws that conform to the knowledge discovered by reason.
7. In a world governed by reason, the true will always be the same as the good and the right (and the beautiful); there can be no conflict between what is true and what is right (etc.).
8. Science thus stands as the paradigm for any and all socially useful forms of knowledge. Science is neutral and objective; scientists, those who produce scientific knowledge through their unbiased rational capacities, must be free to follow the laws of reason, and not be motivated by other concerns (such as money or power).
9. Language, or the mode of expression used in producing and disseminating knowledge, must be rational also. To be rational, language must be transparent; it must function only to represent the real/perceivable world which the rational mind observes. There must be a firm and objective connection between the objects of perception and the words used to name them (between signifier and signified).
These are some of the fundamental premises of humanism, or of modernism. They serve—as you can probably tell—to justify and explain virtually all of our social structures and institutions, including democracy, law, science, ethics, and aesthetics.
Is that a decent interpretation? I hope so.
Now where did I paste that from? Hmm.. good question! If you want the answer just look up the 18th century(1660-1789) and what this age was called. Many of my harshest critics follow this ideology. Now the question I have for my critics is why do you have a ideology that you follow that is over 200 years old?
How do you think I view a argument coming from someone such as this? Should I take the posting seriously or should I do what anyone of my design would do and laugh it off.
In reflection I should perhaps view my critics in parody if not the amusement of irony. That in this time and age there are still critics who continue to relive past ideology. As such I often get sad that his happens.
I hope for the future that the wonderous works of people will prevail and bring the man out of darkness and into the light.
Thanks, sincerely xpowderx