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Opinions about science


Among scientists, philosophers and lawyers partially overlapping conceptions about what is science exist:

• Within the natural sciences "Scientific method" is used.

• Philosophers discuss philosophy of science.

• In the courts i US the Daubert standard are used.


Natural scientists about science


Scientific method

Natural scientists commonly know the concept the scientific method and regard it to implicate that the description of an investigation should be detailed enough to permit repetition by a reader.

The results from the investigation (raw data in experimental work) should also be included in the report. The report should begin with an introduction that contains a background to the work, including an overview of relevant previous publications, and may be terminated by a discussion that may contain a hypothesis generated by the investigations.

In addition to that the report contains something of interest, this is about what is needed for a publication in a scientific journal.

An overview of additional components that are required during publishing is given at the page Science according to Scientists appear, however, not to work according to a more strict definition concerning the content of the term "science".


Scientific journals

A more pragmatic definition, that earlier worked fairly well, is that "what is published in a scientific journal" should be counted as science.

At present, unfortunately many publications that are only apparently scientific can be found. They publish against payment articles that not necessarily follow scientific methodology. See e.g. [Eriksson & Helgesson - The false academy: predatory publishing in science and bioethics, Med Health Care and Philos 20 (2017) s.163-170].

Scientific journals, e.g. Science (manually reload the page if content is not shown) or Nature, have slightly differing demands on publications, resulting in that definitions of the word science may vary slightly.

It will then be the experienced scientists that approve articles (peer review) that define what is regarded as science within their field.



Philosophers about science


A summary of professional philosopher's conceptions within philosophy of science, based on the introduction in
Boyd, R. et al. - The Philosophy of Science,
ISBN-13: 978-0-262-52156-7


The main message is that the consensus of today within philosophy of science is based on, but is more complex than positivistic philosophers' conception. The increased complexity is mainly due to a coupling to observations of scientific activity.

The serious alternatives within philosophy of science are according to Boyd et al.:

• scientific realism.
• neo-Kantian constructivism.
• post-positivistic empiricism.

This means that the alternatives are claimed to resemble something like:

• observations informs us about reality.
• how we conceive the world depends on our agreements.
• the basis of science is, quite coarsely, observations that are verifiable.


In addition the authors added some personal favourites:

• Scientific concepts and methodology are theory dependent.

• Any account of scientific knowledge must embody at least some naturalistic elements. The history of science provides a very important constraint on theories in the philosophy of science.

• Humean conception of causation is by no means obviously correct.

• Biological and social sciences can be "autonomous". Their philosophy may hence be separate from that of physical sciences.


US federal legal definition about Science


In US, trial judges have agreed on a definition of "scientific knowledge" in the Daubert standard.


The definition appears to be rather close to natural scientist´s opinion about science.