Fundamental science

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Fundamental science is either fundamental physics or basic science. To the phenomena or explanations of certain sciences, the term fundamental science attributes a causal or conceptual priority according to either of two, differing distinctions. More commonly, fundamental science is fundamental physics, held to underlie special sciences. Less commonly, fundamental science is basic science, distinguished from applied science.

Viewed as the fundamental science, fundamental physics underlies all other sciences—the special sciences—that rest upon, and in principle are derivable from, or conversely are reducible to, the objects and laws of fundamental physics. Less commonly, fundamental science is synonym to basic science, also termed pure science—principally physics, chemistry, and biology—held apart from applied sciences like engineering and biomedicine, which develop technology or techniques through translating portions of basic science.

Versus special science[edit]

Modeling fundamental interactions, fundamental physics is recognized in philosophy of science as fundamental science, presumed to be more basic than, that is, to underlie, all other sciences—such as astrophysics, chemistry, biology, geology, psychology, and economics—categorized as special sciences.[1][2][3] Whereas fundamental physics has sought laws of universal regularity, special sciences normally include ceteris paribus laws, which are predictively accurate to high probability in "normal conditions" or with "all else equal", but have exceptions.[2]

Not ceteris paribus, chemistry's laws seem exceptionless in their domain, and developed without the severe metaphysical and epistemological challenges encountered by physics concerning the natures of substance, space, and time, or encountered by biological sciences concerning the natures of life and mind. Yet chemistry's laws were presumably reduced to fundamental physics—to quantum mechanics and then quantum electrodynamics[4][5]—and so chemistry is special science. For bridging physical sciences to biological sciences via biochemistry, however, chemistry has been viewed as the central science.

Versus applied science[edit]

Basic science is development and establishment of information to aid understanding of the world, whereas applied science uses portions of basic science to develop technology or technique establishing interventions to alter events or outcomes as desired.[6][7] Although applied science can interface closely with basic science in contexts of research and development, applied science is commonly termed engineering, whereas basic science is often termed pure science.[8] Basic or pure science has also, if less commonly, been called "fundamental science".[8]

In this sense, fundamental science includes fundamental physics along with many special sciences—astrophysics, biology, chemistry, geology, and so on, within natural science and perhaps cognitive sciences, but generally excluding behavioral sciences like psychology and social sciences like economics—and excludes engineering, medical sciences, and epidemiology, for instance, which are applied sciences, set apart from basic/pure/fundamental science.[7][8][9][10][11][12]

Common, populist errors mistake medicine, technology, and their uses for science.[6][7][12][13][14] They can be grouped: STM (science, technology & medicine); STS (science, technology & society). Yet, though interrelated and influencing each other,[9][10][11][15][16] they publish in different journals and have divergent aims, cultures, methods, principles, standards, and knowledge.[7][12][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29][30] Although the Nobel Prize committee, continuing its tradition begun in 1901, mixes basic science with applied science to annually award a single Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, the globe's longest continuing scientific society, the Royal Society of London, categorizes its awards by holding physical sciences and biological sciences apart from applied science, including apart from medical sciences.[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Wolfgang Spohn, The Laws of Belief: Ranking Theory and Its Philosophical Applications (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), p 305.
  2. ^ a b Alexander Reutlinger, Gerhard Schurz & Andreas Hüttemann, "Ceteris paribus laws", sec 1.1 "Systematic introduction", in Edward N Zalta, ed, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Spring 2011 edn.
  3. ^ Vítor Neves, ch 12 "Sciences as open systems—the case of economics", in Olga Pombo, Juan M Torres, John Symons & Shahid Rahman, eds, Special Sciences and the Unity of Science (Dordrecht, Heidelberg, London, New York: Springer, 2012).
  4. ^ Richard P Feynman, QED: The Strange Theory of Light and Matter, exp edn w/ new intro by A Zee (Princeton & London: Princeton University Press, 2006), p 5.
  5. ^ "Figure 1: Contradictions lead to better theories".  in Schwarz, John H. (1998). "Recent developments in superstring theory". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 95 (6): 2750–7. PMC 19640. PMID 9501161. 
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  8. ^ a b c Gerard Piel, "Science and the next fifty years", sec "Applied vs basic science", Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, 1954 Jan;10(1) 17–20, p 18.
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  18. ^ Marshall T (April 1997). "Scientific knowledge in medicine: A new clinical epistemology?". Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 3 (2): 133–8. PMID 9276588. 
  19. ^ Zalewski Z (March 1999). "Importance of philosophy of science to the history of medical thinking". Croatian Medical Journal 40 (1): 8–13. PMID 9933889. 
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  22. ^ Arky RA (2007). "Abe Flexner, where are you? We need you!". Transactions of the American Clinical and Climatological Association 118: 89–96. PMC 1863593. PMID 18528492. 
  23. ^ Byass P (2011). "The democratic fallacy in matters of clinical opinion: Implications for analysing cause-of-death data". Emerging Themes in Epidemiology 8 (1): 1. doi:10.1186/1742-7622-8-1. PMC 3026021. PMID 21223568. 
  24. ^ Westover MB, Westover KD, Bianchi MT (2011). "Significance testing as perverse probabilistic reasoning". BMC Medicine 9: 20. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-20. PMC 3058025. PMID 21356064. 
  25. ^ Morabia A (2005). "Epidemiological causality". History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 27 (3-4): 365–79. PMID 16898206. 
  26. ^ Kundi M (July 2006). "Causality and the interpretation of epidemiologic evidence". Environmental Health Perspectives 114 (7): 969–74. PMC 1513293. PMID 16835045. 
  27. ^ Ward AC (2009). "The role of causal criteria in causal inferences: Bradford Hill's 'aspects of association'". Epidemiologic Perspectives & Innovations 6: 2. doi:10.1186/1742-5573-6-2. PMC 2706236. PMID 19534788. 
  28. ^ Taubes G (March 2001). "Nutrition. The soft science of dietary fat". Science 291 (5513): 2536–45. doi:10.1126/science.291.5513.2536. PMID 11286266. 
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  31. ^ "Medals, Awards & Prize lectures", The Royal Society, Website accessed 22 Sep 2013.