Talk:Scientific progress

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Removed (A general problem of defintion) section, rearranged other sections, clarification finished[edit]

There was a section present that stated "The problem of defining what scientific progress is, and where it stems from consists in the paradox that any such evaluation will have the current scientific knowledge as a given reference point, and thus anything which can be shown to have led to it, even if circuitously, will be deemed "progress"." Given the written record of scientific progress, discussion of scientific progress should be independent of what is seen as modern scientific theory. So it is difficult to see how the current knowledge in science affects the definition of progress. The "circuitous route problem" still stands, but really belongs in the topic that was present in the page, but was empty: "Attitudes toward Scientific Progress".

Originally the order of the article was quotes->origins-> then everything else. Now it is models -> origins -> attitudes -> quotes. The origins section is moved farther down because it primarily discusses old societies that had no concept of scientific progress rather than provide information on what scientific progress is. The quotes section is last because wikipedia is not really a book of famous quotes.

The clarification notice has been removed, due to recent edits.Raazer 20:20, 28 March 2007 (UTC)

Does science represent a danger ?[edit]

by Alexandre Becker, FSA UCL, Group 111.3


Above all, it is essential to understand well the concepts of science and danger. Science is a coherent whole of knowledge relative to a certain category of facts, of objects or phenomena obeying laws and confirmed by experimental methods. The danger is what constitutes a threat, a risk, which compromises the existence (of someone or something).
Before calling science in question, it is important to know its history somewhat. Until the 16 and the 17th centuries, the Church was in control of the knowledge. The breaking occurred when Copernic and Galileo suggested theories on the other side of the Church. Science developed then basing on a justified and convincing speech.
One can divide this text into 5 parts. First of all, we will present the main ideas from the interview of an expert (Mr. Bosseler, religion’s professor). Next, we will expound the arguments in favor of science, followed by a counter-argumentation. Finally, we will explain our position and the relationship between this question and our future profession.

Interview of the expert[edit]

A relation important to consider is the one which exists between science and philosophy. This relation is essential, because it allows to avoid an ill-considered scientific progress, without limits and purely technical. Philosophy helps science to go in the direction of general progress. Science and philosophy must work together. Each one must fill a well defined role. Philosophy, via ethics, must play a critical part. It is it which dictates what is good. It lays down the rules to be respected to avoid any drift such as the eugenics or scientism. It must preserve the dignity of the man. Science, as for it, brings knowledge (of the man, of the reality, of nature...) and opens new horizons.
So that this relation functions as well as possible, it is essential that science and philosophy do not deviate from their field. Science sticks to the facts and treats of “how” while philosophy is in charge of the values and of “why”. The ethics committees seem to be most effective to manage this delicate relation. Those are reliable and their utility is not any more to prove because they have made it possible to avoid many scientific errors. Their reliability is due to the fact that they are made people of different opinions, because of different origins and cultures. However, risk zero does not exist and errors will always occur.
The contribution of science to our happiness is not negligible but it cannot bring it if it is alone. It is rather on philosophy that this role is incumbent. Science gets material wellbeing (with richest) but also a spiritual, getting knowledge with any man. But let us not forget that it does not solve all our problems. It does not make the world perfect and to believe in it represents a danger. The technological progress constitutes only tools which can be well or badly used. An excessive scientific progress would do nothing but bring misfortune, crushing the man.
Like known as previously, science cannot solve all the problems, and certainly not the problems of values. Not thinking, being devoid of conscience, science cannot reach that point. The philosophy and the ethics committees must intervene in this case. In fact, the values give a direction to science. They define what the men must do. It is not the reverse which must occur.
Since the breaking of the 17th century, science wants to adapt the direction of the existence. Its exponential growth brought an unimaginable capacity to the men who are now able to create to destroy (atomic bombs). These capacities suppose a great responsibility which the man cannot support. The ethics committees were then created to determine what is true and good.


The advantages which science gets are undeniable. From the medical point of view, new technologies made it possible to increase our life expectancy and the number of saved lives multiplied. One can also take for example Internet. This one is a marvelous field of discoveries, knowledge but also of communications. The science permitted to the man to look at the world differently, thanks to a way of thinking more rational that it brought to him. Its progress, in particular at the time of the industrial revolutions, improved the wellbeing of the man. The interaction between science and philosophy is beneficial. It carries out towards a general progress of the society. Although generated by science, many threats are actually due to the unconsciousness of the men and their thirst for power

Counter argumentation[edit]

Formerly simple tool controlled with the service of the man, science evolved. It became technician and influences the man, handles it. This one must however remain in control of science in order to avoid any harmful consequence for the future of humanity. The relation between ethics and the technique constitutes the major problem. What can we make ? To drive the development to the extreme or to stop it ? None of these solutions is possible. The single solution is to lay down rules to be respected and take into account the fact that the man should never be the object of handling. The policy plays a considerable part. It is in relation to the technique. It must do all that is in its power to channel the technical evolution. Dangers such as a computerized society or the disappearance of any moral standards cannot materialize.
The current society is dependent on know-how technician. To consider that technology is the base of a better world, to think that the end justifies the means is utopian and involves certain risks. It is not the technological rise which is dangerous but the fact of regarding it as an entity which constitutes the future.
Science today has a power on the life. It claims to work for the good of the man. But what is well for the man ? Should it be improved genetically to eliminate any disease ? The threat which hovers over is that the human condition is completely modified, that the world is denatured. Let us not forget the disadvantages due to science (oil slicks, modification of the climate...). Unfortunately, bathing in a field without limits of action, the scientists do not seem to be conscious of the social consequences their discoveries.

Our opinion[edit]

According to us, science brings to the man some universal knowledge but also a material wellbeing, that philosophy could not offer to him. However, without the latter, the life of the man would be quite sad and would be devoid of sense. This is why a close cooperation between science and philosophy is necessary. This one will make it possible to the man to preserve one of the greatest values which it has: its freedom. Moreover, many threats will not concretize themselves if science is directed on the good way by philosophy. This interaction can be only advantageous. It will get essential balance so that the existence of the man is the best possible one.

Relationship to trade of engineer[edit]

It is important to understand well the difference between a scientist and an engineer. The scientist works in an abstract field which is theoretical research while the engineer applies this theory, with the service of the society. The scientist hardly worries about the well-founded of what it creates, invents. The engineer is obliged thus to adopt a critical mind to determine what will be or will not be concretized. He must take the ethical question related to these discoveries into account and make consequently decisions. Any creation put at the disposal of the society is able to generate problems. The engineer must anticipate them. Philosophy is thus an essential tool that the engineer must have and control.


It is obvious that science represents a danger. The catastrophes which it could generate if no limit were imposed on it are numerous. An uncontrolled evolution of science would crush all the morals values of the man, would destroy any ideology. The ethics committees allow coming not to that stage yet. To stop the technological development is unthinkable but to adapt it is necessary. Lastly, to use progress in an adequate way cannot be possible that if science and philosophy work hand in hand. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 10:54, 21 February 2003 (UTC)
Since this discussion predates the article by a year or two, it isn't at all related to the topic, Scientific progress. --SteveMcCluskey 13:49, 27 August 2006 (UTC)

Alleged incompatibillity[edit]

For example, consider Newtonian mechanics and relativistic mechanics. From a strict vantage point, in newtonian mechanics mass and energy are always conserved, where in relativistc mechanics energy and mass are always interchangeable. (...) Because the theories are completely incompatible, scientists using one paradigm will not be able to discuss meaningfully with scientists from the other paradigm.

Mass and energy conservation theory isn't incompatible with a theory holding that mass and energy are interchangable.

Relativistic mechanics in this example are only an extension of "classic" ones. They employ the very same formulas of Newtonian physics, only to permitably transform them to describe recently "discovered" laws.

--Fungamespl (talk) 20:17, 13 May 2014 (UTC)