The theory of knowledge has a long history. It begins with church fathers, and scholastics. Appealing to God as the source of all knowledge, and to scriptures as its proof.
Then, the followers of skepticism – Hume, rationalism – Descartes, empiricism – Locke, were less prepared to believe in simple truths. Modern thinkers grew increasingly tired of philosophy instead pursuing a strict scientific realism in schools of pragmatism, positivism, and materialism.
Whether looking for answers in religious belief or by seeking for rational explanations trough observation, humans have always been thriving to learn more about what’s out there.
Fictional ideas exist in a paradigm of conceptual fantasy; on the scale of possibility they have no requirement for being probable being only limited by one’s imagination. While there are philosophers such as Nancy Cartwright who argue for the existence of a degree of fictionalism in the scientific discourse (Votsis, 2004, p. 16), science aspires to create models which follow reality as closely as possible.
Science is not characterized by personal values and partiality, but rather by a certain academic disinterest. Owning to this culture of rigor, scientific ideas are tiny subset of all the creative thought generated worldwide; it is a specific form knowledge, dealing with the phenomena of the world in a systematic and structured way.
While the subject of scientific research can be anything that can be observed by the scientist, the academic world of science is organized into fields of study. There are the scientists who research biological, physical and chemical phenomena and those who investigate anthropological, social, and cultural subjects; but this is not a complete list. There are many overlaps in the structure of the academic world, and often the same phenomenon is studied from differing points of view.
Whatever the scientific field, the practice of science (what is it that the scientists actually do?) is best considered in the light of the scientific method. Although there are famous disagreements in the precise nature of these methods (such as Kuhn’s cautious attitudes towards induction in recognition of its fallacies), there are also common techniques of modern science.
The principles of formal mathematical logic and the categorization of independent and dependent variables in the deduction of cause and effect, and the requirement that each part of the scientific method should be falsifiable are just some of which practitioners deem almost universally essential.
The findings of science are shared in scientific papers, which, as science in general, need to be well structured and clearly organized. As such they are most often published in peer reviewed journals for the audience of the particular academic field.
More generalized publications, for example the journal Science also publish research from a wider range of fields. Students enrolled in university level courses are required to format their research in specific rigorous ways. Among the most common are the American APA and MLA styles for which the undergraduate and graduate lever professors are the primary audience.
This culture of publication plays a key role in the dissemination of science by allowing for reproduction and verification of results by repeating the experiments in question.
Thus the discussion of the structure of science and the nature of its methods of research demonstrates that science is cyclical by nature. Trough repeating patterns of research and investigation science is advanced, innovation and new technologies progressed. If something is not true, it can be demonstrated by a test. The scientific methods of analysis, synthesis, and the formation of theories are the methods used in the scientific pursuit for truth; they are a part of the culture of critical thinking are the basis for the creation of knowledge.
Votsis, I. (2004). The Epistemological Status of Scientific Theories: An Investigation of the Structural Realist Account. London: London School of Economics.∎ Back to Index