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The dilemma of ‘progress’ in science

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Most practicing scientists scarcely harbor any doubts that science makes progress. For, what they see is that despite the many false alleys into which science has strayed across the centuries, despite the waxing and waning of theories and beliefs, the history of science, at least since the ‘early modern period’ (the 16th and 17th centuries) is one of steady accumulation of scientific knowledge. For most scientists this growth of knowledge is progress. Indeed, to deny either the possibility or actuality of progress in science is to deny its raison d’être.  On the other hand careful examination by historians and philosophers of science has shown that identifying progress in science is in many ways a formidable and elusive problem. At the very least scholars such Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn, Larry Laudan and Paul Thagard while not doubting that science makes progress, have debated on how science is progressive or what it is about science that makes it inherently progressive. Then there are. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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