Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Economic Epistemology

Image courtesy of Cliff Kule

In recent years I’ve been curious about the fluidity of presumed objectivity at the heart of modern economics. Chiefly, its occasional lack of ability to explain the behaviours of markets:

Central bankers still debate whether it’s possible to recognize asset bubbles when they occur, and whether they can or should be deflated. Regulators and bankers are still at odds over new financial products such as credit derivatives: Do they simply improve the market’s ability to process and reflect information, or do they also present new dangers of their own? This is a failure that left the world unprepared for the most recent financial crisis, and the economics profession has been far too complacent about it. Economists can’t be expected to predict the future. But they should be able to identify threatening trends, and to better understand the conditions that can turn a change in prices into a financial tsunami.

Following events such as the financial crisis of 2008, and rising levels of destabilizing inequality (especially in the United States, at the center of the world economy) in the years since, a growing number of economic minds have begun conceiving of a “Brave New Math:”

While the limitations of GDP have since been echoed by many prominent economists including Nobel laureates Joseph Stiglitz and Amartya Sen (whose landmark 2010 report included dozens of important socio-economic measures drawn from the developing world), there has been little change in the obsessive overreliance on GDP as the primary economic barometer. And if GDP was an unreliable indicator in the pre-globalized world, it is woefully misleading today. Increasingly, understanding the quality of GDP and its composition, especially the weighting of its four constituent parts—consumption, government spending, investment, and net exports—is most important to our long-term national health. Yet few governments have managed to divorce themselves from the simple GDP figure, regardless of how irrelevant it has become.

Editorialists at the New York Times have opined that:

“Infinite growth in a finite world is impossible, growth based on speculative finance is unstable, and since the 1960’s, GDP growth and self-reported well-being have been completely uncorrelated phenomena. In this sense holistic, deep-reaching change of both thought, education and practice is needed. Indeed, we were brought together by an increasing realization that our global economic troubles aren’t just a few bad apples; the problem is indeed the apple tree.”

 Writers at the Guardian have called for an expanded undergraduate economics curriculum

We propose that neoclassical theory be taught alongside and in conjunction with a broad variety of other schools of thought consistently throughout the undergraduate degree. In this way the discipline is opened up to critical discussion and evaluation. How well do different schools explain economic phenomena? Which assumptions should we build our models upon? Should we believe that markets are inherently self-stabilising or does another school of thought explain reality better? When economists are taught to think like this, all of society will benefit and more economists will see the next crisis coming. Critical pluralism opens up possibilities and the imagination.

From a certain perspective it could be stated that we are reaching the end of an economic paradigm, giving us something of a real-time example to examine in the realm of Epistemology, as old truths are investigated, and assumptions are tested against the possibilities of the new.

Or not.

That’s the thing about shifting paradigms: How do we know that the existing paradigm is flawed to its foundation? Might it require merely ‘tweaks’ as opposed to full-scale revolution and regeneration?

How do we ensure that this conversation has a means of happening democratically?



How to argue with a Scientific Consensus

Via Scientific American

We brushed up against this topic with Vanessa’s logical example examining Donald Trump’s statements about climate change. For those wondering how Trump (and others) attempt to refute the overwhelming scientific evidence that humans are indeed responsible for the perils caused by climate change, the New Republic article  quoted below looks into the ‘finer’ points of their argument.

How do those who deny the scientific consensus look to make their claim? Are they attacking the validity, factual correctness, or soundness of the IPCC’s reporting on climate science? And do they have sufficient ground to be making these denials?

The main criticism of Cook’s study is that it omits the vast number of papers that take no position on global warming’s causes. That’s true: Cook’s study of the 12,000 abstracts found that 66 percent of them took no position, so he excluded them in calculating the percentage. As Cook explained in an online video, he omitted these papers because abstracts are short summaries that “don’t waste time stating something they assume their readers will already know”; just as most “astronomy papers don’t think it necessary to explain that the Earth revolves around the sun,” he said, “nowadays most climatology papers don’t see the need to reaffirm the consensus position.”

The deniers’ criticism hardly discredits his study. After all, roughly 4,000 of those abstracts did take a position, and 97 percent of them endorsed anthropogenic warming. And it’s hardly the first study of its kind.

Cook’s finding is backed by a field of literature. A paper in the journal Science published a decade earlier by Naomi Oreskes found 75 percent of peer-review literature from 1993 to 2003 agreed on man’s role in global warming. That percentage has only risen as the scientific study on climate has progressed. In June, a longtime research of the subject, National Physical Sciences Consortium director James Powell, found that 97 percent might be too low. His paper, which has not yet been published, found 99.9 percent of the field agreed in 24,000 peer-reviewed papers published in 2013 and 2014.

“The fact that each of these studies have used completely different methods to arrive at the same result demonstrates just how robust the overwhelming consensus on climate change is,” Cook said, pointing out that these studies have relied on techniques like directly surveying climate scientists, analyzing public statements, and examining peer-reviewed papers. All these approaches confirm the same point on the vast agreement.

Even if you want to ignore the consensus literature, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change—which includes the most robust panel of respected climate scientists in the world—said in its most recent and fifth assessment that it has 95 percent confidence that humans are driving warming (equivalent to the scientific certainty that cigarettes cause health problems).

That’s not the only case deniers make against the 97 percent figure. They argue that if you include non-experts (academics in fields unrelated to climate change) or only look at the studies that say global warming dangerous, you’d get a much lower number. There are some obvious problems with these arguments: Shouldn’t expertise in a field matter? And how to define “dangerous” warming was outside the scope of Cook’s study. After all, the whole point of the study was to answer a simple question that cuts through the rhetoric of climate politics.

All this debate over one statistic might seem silly, but it’s important that Americans understand there is overwhelming agreement about human-caused global warming. Deniers have managed to undermine how the public views climate science, which in turn makes voters less likely to support climate action. According Gallup polling, only 60 percent of Americans think that most scientists believe climate change is occurring.



Quantum Mechanics 101

From time to time in Philosophy this semester we’ve stumbled into metaphysical issues brought about by Vincent quantum mechanics. To help scaffold these conversations through the balance of the semester, or merely for your own curiosity, here are a few short videos on the key concepts in the field.

Demystifying Tough Physics in Four Lessons

Ready to level up your working knowledge of quantum mechanics? Check out these four TED-Ed Lessons written by Chad Orzel, Associate Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union College and author of How to Teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog.

You’ll find the four short lessons linked below:

  1. Particles and Waves: The Central Mystery of Quantum Mechanics
  2. Schrodinger’s Cat: A Thought Experiment in Quantum Mechanics
  3. Einstein’s Brilliant Mistake: Entangled States
  4. What is the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle? 


Rationalism, the Paradigm Shift, and the Penrose Tile

KITES & DARTS: British mathematician Roger Penrose created a plane of beautiful, endless variation with just two shapes, kites and darts, seen here in blue lines. Image by Dominique Fung

I came across this article in Nautilus that seems to tread some familiar territory in terms of a few of our discussions during metaphysics in the last while.

Given that Fibonacci seems to appear everywhere in nature—from pineapples to rabbit populations—it was all the more odd that the ratio was fundamental to a tiling system that appeared to have nothing to do with the physical world. Penrose had created a mathematical novelty, something intriguing precisely because it didn’t seem to work the way nature does. It was as if he wrote a work of fiction about a new animal species, only to have a zoologist discover that very species living on Earth. In fact, Penrose tiles bridged the golden ratio, the math we invent, and the math in the world around us.

However, an added piece of this idea relates directly to a concept at the heart of our epistemology unit, as relates to the idea of a paradigm shift:

It was as though Penrose’s fanciful mathematics had forced itself into the natural world. “For 80 years, a crystal was defined as ‘ordered and periodic,’ because all crystals studied from 1912 on were periodic,” Shechtman says. “It wasn’t until 1992 that the International Union of Crystallography established a committee to redefine ‘crystal.’ That new definition is a paradigm shift for crystallography.”

It was more than mere mental inertia that made it so hard to understand and absorb Shechtman’s discovery. Aperiodic crystalline structures weren’t just unfamiliar; they were supposed to be unnatural. Remember that the placement of one Penrose tile can affect things thousands of tiles away—local constraints create global constraints. But if a crystal forms atom by atom, there should be no natural law that would allow for the kind of restrictions inherent to Penrose tiles.

As we continue to argue the merits of empiricism versus rationalism, doesn’t the example of the Penrose tile present a case of rationalism leading the way?



What it is to be Conscious – Ted Honderich on Philosophy Bites

You are a living consciousness.

Today we’ve been listening to and deconstructing Nigel Warburton’s interview of Ted Honderich on the subject of consciousness, which you can listen to here: What is it to be Conscious? (mp3)

In looking around for materials to supplement this listen, I stumbled onto this article about a feud Mr. Honderich has found himself in regarding a review written of his book, Actual Consciousness. While it may not help you digest the content of the podcast any, it is an illuminating tour of the personalities that can drive intellectual discourse and disagreement:

…the feud is escalating into philosophy’s equivalent of a prize fight between two former colleagues who are both among the showiest brawlers in the philosophy dojo. In one corner is McGinn, 57, West Hartlepool-born professor of philosophy at the University of Miami, and the self-styled hard man of philosophy book reviewing. In the other corner is Honderich, 74, Ontario-born Grote Professor Emeritus of the philosophy of mind and logic at University College London, and a man once described by fellow philosopher Roger Scruton as the “thinking man’s unthinking man”. They are using all the modern weapons at their disposal – blogs, emails, demands for compensation from the academic journal that published the original review, an online counter-review, and an online counter-counter-review.

The heart of their dispute, though, may not be over intellectual matters at all, but about something one of them said more than a quarter of a century ago about the other’s ex-girlfriend (of which more later).

Something you might find of more use in trying to decode Honderich’s consciousness is this review summarizing the author’s premises:

What of Honderich’s proposal? “Being conscious”, he says, “is for something to be actual.” If this does not strike you as particularly informative (if what is actual is what exists in fact, this seems to apply to many things that have nothing to do with consciousness), things become clearer when Honderich explains what it is that is actual in different types of consciousness. In sensory perception, what is actual is a subjective physical world: something that is physical (like the table out there) but that also depends on facts about the subject (those facts being physical through and through, such as its neural states and its location). What is actual in thought, desire and the like are representations. For Honderich, representations inhabit the subjective physical realm too and, as such, are both physical and subjective.






Philosophers and Super Soakers: Science vs. Philosophy in the Modern Age

“In dismissing philosophy as an antiquated relic of our prescientific past, the scientist is making a very large and dubious assumption: that the abstract methods of philosophy . . . have nothing more to contribute to our developing understanding of the world.”

Robert Pasnau, “Why not just weigh the fish?

During our recent discussions in class, nothing struck me more than the clash between science and philosophy. The idea of an either/or relationship between the two was foreign to me, despite my upbringing as a scientifically minded individual. Previously I had viewed them as two sides of the same coin, one thinking and one doing, the philosopher pondering “Should we?” while the scientist wonders “Can we?”. Though this divide between the fields was new to me, the reason for it was immediately obvious: if philosophy cannot cure cancer or send a human to Mars, what good is it? This begged me to raise the question: Does philosophy have a place in the scientifically driven world of today?

A stereotypical philosopher, languishing in a pit of circular logic.

The hasty answer to this question would be no: if philosophy cannot achieve quantifiable results, then it should be discarded. If you were sick, would you want a doctor trained in medical science or a philosopher by your beside? However, this viewpoint is a short term solution, akin to slapping a bandaid on an injury time and time again instead of dealing with the cause of the problem (in this case, perhaps an awful sense of balance. But I digress.). This “solution” will work for a little while, until eventually the repairs are not cutting it and the whole system must be replaced. This is where philosophy steps in, addressing the human cause of the problem instead of dealing with the results. For example, science may roll out countless drugs for weight loss, but it is philosophy’s job to question whether we should be doing this at all.

Many pieces of post-apocalyptic fiction picture the world in a state of ruin after science has gone too far, unleashing a zombie plague, building hyper-advanced computer AI’s, or creating weapons that could wipe out a continent. In all of these (however unlikely) scenarios, these acclaimed scientists poured their lives into their work, never stepping back and looking upon the potential for wrongdoing and crisis. If every member of our supposed scientific organization had stepped back and thought “Hey, maybe this time travel device/weapon of mass destruction/sentient AI isn’t such a good idea.”, the post-apocalypticalization (totally a word) of the given fictional world would (likely) never have happened in the first place.

Scientific progress has been benefitting our world for hundreds of years, from building the first telescopes to developing vaccines that have saved millions of lives. Scientific progress is constant, reliable, and always moving forward – yet this is its failure. In its haste to cure cancer, plan a mission to Mars, or (again) build a sentient AI, science fails to consider the ramifications of its actions. This is where philosophy steps in, consider outcomes, potential hazards, and the wisdom of continuing down the current path. While philosophy may not make any quantifiable leaps and bounds, it serves as a leash on science for the betterment of humankind. Without philosophy, science would be forever driven by the question “Can we?” instead of “Should we?”



In Knowledge We Trust! ~Lazar


“It seems paradoxical that scientific research, in many ways one of the most questioning and skeptical of human activities, should be dependent on human trust.” -Elizabeth Nuefeld

Trust is highly controversial to our mind when it comes to ideas we question, yet almost treated as an instinct among the concepts we like and desire. More so, we base our trust in people upon their expertise and relationship. When it comes to factual knowledge, we will always prefer to belive the words of a professional over those spoken from a friend, regardless of whether or not the professional is correct. On the other hand, we would trust our friend with aiding us in a personal task over the professional. Yet, our trust in friendship seems to have a much greater potential of failure over our trust in professionals. It seems that the chord of personal trust has a greater tension over professional trust, but with greater tension, it must be stronger, thus has greater personal value. However, this level of personal trust does not create a well-built foundation for factual knowledge. This all comes down to one question, that is how easily, and/or whether or not this “trust” in professional researchers is being abused?

Allow me to refer you to the following logarithmic function:

f(x) = logx

f(10) = 1

If you are familiar with logarithms, this would not be an alien world to you. However, what if one never was exposed to such mathematics and has never experienced or used this function before. Then we approach the scenario where this person now trusts that I am in fact portraying the truth about this mathematical function.

Now, consider meeting a stranger in a coffee shop and you begin speaking with this so-called stranger. You begin to discuss the topic related to animals, where the stranger claims he is a leading expert in Red Pandas (A topic which you know almost nothing about), and states several highly believable facts. Would you believe them? Would you question him? Most likely, you would not go through the trouble to ask the stranger to show documentation to prove he is an expert in Red Pandas, and most likely you would belive what he has to say, due to his professional appearance.

Let me refer you to a second problem. Today scientists have documentation that can prove they indeed are experts and their field of study and evidence for their research. But does this not only provide a greater tool for manipulation as well as profession? With this evident status, scientists could almost create anything they wish (With logic of course) and we would belive what they published. Of course, most scientists work for themselves and would have no motive of such anarchy. However, lets consider those working for big corporations, who are paid to find certain results. Wouldnt they have a motive to begin making up results in order to keep their jobs? We still believe what they have provided for us as well, yet there are possibilities of their research being manipulated and infected by the reach of money.

At the same time, what would happen if we began to question all research and all new knowledge so forth? We would not be able to get any significant work accomplished and research would by almost futile. In the end, we need this trust in the professionals of our society in order for society as itself to function efficiently. This is regardless of whether or not we are being lied to, we must trust that we are told the truth (Maybe “they” know that WE know this fact, therefore they can lie to us without us questioning. just something to think about).

So how do we know whether or not we are told the truth?

We don’t.

Consider Schrödinger’s cat, where a cat was placed in a box with a vile of poison and some cat food. the box was then closed. How can we know whether the cat is dead or alive? It’s simple, the cat is both dead and alive, or at least that’s what we must assume. This experiment was used to demonstrate the uncertainty principle at the quantum level; however, for us, it is a great tool to describe how we should treat our trust towards society’s professionals. We must assume that we are both told the truth and lied to, for we do not know whether we are or are not. Since we can’t know, we must trust society’s professionals as well as oppose. Maybe humans already subconsciously perform these two tasks regularly, because if we never questioned any new or old theories, studies would never progress, falsification would never occur, and hence there would be no paradigm shifts.

 So where does this end us?

Knowledge is a direct function of trust. Meaning, without the notion of trust in society’s professionals, knowledge would not be able to be passed among our generations and education would be good as useless. More so, society would not be able to function, we would have a large barrier preventing us to function in a professional environment, for workers would not trust each other in their working teams. Science would no longer progress and businesses would collapse under its own structure.

It takes one miniscule second to break years of trust, yet it takes years to gain a miniscule amount of trust.



Scientific Philosophy Round Up

Soaring into the eye of the gods

Image courtesy of Gardner Campbell (and the Romans)

I thought it might be helpful to round up the Scientific Philosophy posts here so that we might be able to more easily delve into their contents in the future.

Screen shot 2013-10-08 at 1.11.57 PMHeather & Andrea’s Instrumentalism Prezi

Logical Positivism is an outdated, radical idea that started in the Vienna Circle as far back as the early 1800s. The main view that logical positivists held is that no statement is legitimate or meaningful until it can be proven true or false. In the minds of logical positivists, personal opinions and values only warps science, and it can only be objective through the scientific method. During or class discussion, with the help of a spectrum of ideologies such as instrumentalism and postmodernism, the majority of the class came to the conclusion that science is not objective. This agreement was based on the idea that science is about the process of which we come to a conclusion, rather than the conclusion itself. Logical positivists would disagree with this analogy, as they believe that science is about coming to a proven legitimate conclusion rather than the process.

Ashley, Jessica & Sophie on Logical Positivism

As a byproduct of the horrors of the Holocaust, a lost outlook on art, literature, and science arose rampant. From the works of Kurt Vonnegut to Jackson Pollock, a taste for confusion and abstract perspectives is obvious. After the war, in debt and longing for war, the ambiance was rather angsty… skeptical if you will.

The whole objective of science is to create an objective method to find an objective truth. However, how can one be continued objective in this world of context and personal bias. In the post modernist view, the world should be objective, looking and searching for a single truth… or a set of certain truths. But science is a way of thinking, in which no one can be objective. We have a set of lenses in which we choose what to search for. What can we tolerate? What do we need to discover?

Julie on Postmodernists’ Science

In science, a paradigm is a theory or set of thoughts that is widely accepted and practiced as the truth at that time. A paradigm shift is a total change in your set of view about a particular paradigm and it is most closely related to scientific progress but you could use it as a way to describe your own personal beliefs. We all exist in our own different paradigms. We all have our own personal beliefs on certain things and our outlook on the world is affected by those beliefs. And we can experience paradigm shifts in our own lives where our views on certain things are turned upside down. And as well, the scientific community and society exists in certain paradigms through out history at all. For example, right now we exist in the paradigm that landmasses are being moved constantly by continental plates. This is different from the old theory that the continents were always where they are. Thomas Kuhn believed that there are so many different paradigms going around, and that all the time they are changing, that there is no way that science can just settle on one of them. The existence of paradigms and paradigm shifts make it so that science isn’t just based on one total truth, but instead many different ideas of the truth.

Dylan, Katherine & Aidan on Kuhn’s Paradigms

Karl Popper stated very simply that science can only get as true as long as one cannot deem it false. This is his theory of falsification, regarding that in science, one can never reach 100% objectivity; that a scientific theory will infinitely approach this asymptotic mark we call truth. For example, Galileo disproving that our planet is the center of our solar system and Einstein redefining the method of which we consider the gravitational pulls among interstellar masses from Newtons original gravitational theory.

Although Popper nicely answers our question, which I do mostly agree with, I still remain persistent and a little disagreeing with the concept of science being nonobjective. With that, I went and searched for the definition of science, which states:  knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation (Note: this is only one definition, there are many, however they all float around the same vicinity). The thing about science is that it is used to create facts, with the least subjectivity as possible, and to distinguish these facts with the most accuracy as possible. In the out come, a fact is only one element, meaning, that even though many different people can view and consider the function of a box in many different ways, in the end, it is still cubic object and that doesn’t change. It will be the same shape for everyone, the only difference is other’s may name it differently and use it differently.

Lazar and Deven on Karl Popper & Scientific Objectivity

In one of my reports I was writing for Quebec called: La Condition postmoderne: Rapport sur le savoir (The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge) I simplify narratives of narratives that are called meta-narratives which are essentially big, universal theories and philosophies. The one I will be discussing is the meta-narrative of the knowability of everything by science.

The first question I have is why is this theory putting all of us under the same category? People in developing nations don’t have access to learning about science or performing science, or what we perceive to be science.  They survive and know how to survive, not by science, but by the need to live. This leads to the question: isn’t needing to survive a primal instinct? Isn’t it science? Well yes, but is it an objective truth? Do we know what the earliest humans were thinking? How do we really know what primal instincts are for everyone? There different for people in countries in African and they’re different for people living in Canada. I’m sure we could all come up with ideas and words that were said by the earliest humans, but we don’t know. However what we do know is that every word or idea we think is different than what another person thinks.

Aman’s Ghost Report 

Quine in lesser words basically said that it’s hard to find an exact definition of a word, so it becomes impossible to use as a basis for a hypothesis or a theory. Every word has a definition, but the it’s hard to know the exact definition of the word. For example,  a definition of a word is someone’s opinion and everyone’s opinion is unique; therefore there are many types of definitions for every word. The definitions are not correct nor incorrect because its an opinion and opinions vary for every individual.

Van Ormine Quine by Imtiaz, Leon & Tyler

Dear readers. My name Martin Heidegger and my work as a philosopher was instrumental in understanding postmodernism and their views on science. My book, Being and Time, is considered one of the most important philosophical works of the 20th century and my work is said to have played a crucial role in the development of existentialism, hermeneutics, deconstruction, postmodernism, and continental philosophy.

Is science objective: No, of course it is not.

Emily’s look at Martin Heidegger

I will update this post with quotes and links to both the Feminists’ view on Scientific Objectivity, as well as the Anarchistic Epistemologists, when they are posted.



“Thomas Kuhn, Is Science Objective?”~ Aidan, Dylan, Katherine


Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn was born on July 18, 1922. He was an American physicist, historian, and scientific philosopher. Before Kuhn, there wasn’t any really detailed map of how science progressed. But he helped to paint a picture of the way that science was able to grow and contribute more knowledge to the scientific community. Kuhn discussed his answer to the question “is science objective” quite clearly in is 73 years of living. His universally acclaimed novel The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was the gateway into his thinking of the objectivity of science. Through different books and essays, Thomas Kuhn let us into his world of how he views the progress of science, and his views on the objectivity of science as a whole. So, let’s delve into the mind of the paradigm shifter himself, and find out if science is truly objective.

Before Kuhn, science was thought to progress with the continual adding of new theories to an old theory and adding new beliefs in to the same realm of old beliefs. Kuhn did not agree with this theory. Kuhn instead saw science as having two different forms, “normal science, and “revolutionary science.  He saw normal science as being the form that was described as the old theory of how science progressed. He described it as the regular work of a scientist within a certain set of beliefs, where they keep adding new theories to an already existing theory, and keep adding up onto it. His theory of revolutionary science is a bit more dramatic. Revolutionary science is the way in which science progresses with the total shifting of views on a certain scientific idea. This was the main point behind Kuhn’s outlook on the progress of science. He described a set of thoughts or collection of opinions on one topic as a paradigm, and the dramatic shift of opinions on the topic as a paradigm shift. Revolutionary science was when a paradigm shift would take place, and an existing paradigm would be replaced with a new paradigm. This was opposite to the idea of normal science, and was how Kuhn described science to progress.

Paradigms and paradigms shifts were the focal points behind Kuhn’s theory of revolutionary science as described above, and the main way that Kuhn was able to answer the question of the objectivity of science. In science, a paradigm is a theory or set of thoughts that is widely accepted and practiced as the truth at that time. A paradigm shift is a total change in your set of view about a particular paradigm and it is most closely related to scientific progress but you could use it as a way to describe your own personal beliefs. We all exist in our own different paradigms. We all have our own personal beliefs on certain things and our outlook on the world is affected by those beliefs. And we can experience paradigm shifts in our own lives where our views on certain things are turned upside down. And as well, the scientific community and society exists in certain paradigms through out history at all. For example, right now we exist in the paradigm that landmasses are being moved constantly by continental plates. This is different from the old theory that the continents were always where they are. Thomas Kuhn believed that there are so many different paradigms going around, and that all the time they are changing, that there is no way that science can just settle on one of them. The existence of paradigms and paradigm shifts make it so that science isn’t just based on one total truth, but instead many different ideas of the truth.

File:Duck-Rabbit illusion.jpg

Rabbit – Duck Optical Illusion



This was a picture that helped Kuhn to describe his idea of paradigm shifts, and the idea of how everyone sees different things even if they are looking at the same concept in science and elsewhere. Just as in this picture, you may happen to see a rabbit, or you may happen to see a duck. Or you may see a shape which no one else has seen before. This helped him to describe the idea of different paradigms as being different ways of seeing things and making science subjective that way since we each see something different.



So with all this information, is science objective? Through the lens of Thomas Kuhn, we would have to say that it is not. Thomas Kuhn would say that since there are so many competing paradigms and differences of opinions, science is subjective. Because all theories are based on subjective conditioning and ideas, there is no way that science is able to be fully objective. Science can only progress and shift and change as different paradigms are brought up, and it is subject to be flipped on its head again and again.  Therefore, science is a way to study and understand the world in a collective way, but based on opinions and outlooks that continue to change as time goes on.



Scientific Philosophy Group Headings

Image from the FreeCollective.org

This week we will be attempting to respond to the question, Is Science Objective? through a variety of lenses. Read up on the links below to help us in choosing our groups for this course of study.

The Objectivity of Science
Chris Price

Kristina, Daniel & Leanne

Philosophy of Deutsch
Richard and Greg

Thomas Kuhn
Guide to Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Iris, Yazmeen & Stephanie

Logical Positivism
Jennifer, Mariana & Misha

Karl Popper
Jonathan & Nick

Anarchistic Epistemology
Liam Keagan & Clayton

Toren, Megan & Derek

Van Ormine Quine
Kelly, Emily & Zoe