Assess the sociological explanation of science and ideology of belief system?

Topics: Scientific method, Science, Truth Pages: 5 (1795 words) Published: November 23, 2013
Sociologists argue that science and ideology can both be belief systems. In the 18th century was the era of the enlightenment. People started to think and question was there more than just a God and that’s where science was introduced. People started to use rational ways of thinking to explain things that happened. Science has been used to develop different parts in society such as medicine and technology that we use in everyday life. But it has also caused problems such as pollution and global warming. Science has cognitive power, it can allow us to explain, predict and control the world. According to Popper science is an open belief system where every scientist’s theories are open to scrutiny, criticised and tested by others. He says that science is governed by the principle of falsificationism. This is whereby scientists set out to try and falsify existing theories, deliberately seeking evidence that would disprove them. Such as the fact that the big bang is a theory that everyone accepts but there is much more that scientists do not know and more needed to be found therefore it could be false. It argues that there always can be more and more evidence for every theory that has ever been made and proven. Then when disproving these knowledge claims allows scientific world to grow. It is cumulative, whereby it builds on achievements of previous scientists. This explanation shows that science can be a belief system as nothing can ever be proven 100% as there will always be something or someone that will disprove a theory with other evidence and therefore people belief what they have been told. This is much like religion in a way by the fact that religion cannot be proven it is something that people belief in. If popper is correct then it still leaves the question of why science has grown over the last few centuries. Merton argues that science can only thrive as a major social institution if it receives support from other institutions and values. He argues that this occurred in England as a result of the values and attitudes created by the protestant reformation especially Puritanism. The beliefs that they had to study nature led appreciation of God’s works, encouraged them to experiment. They stressed social welfare and were attracted to the fact that science could produce technological inventions to improve the conditions of life. Like Popper, Merton argues that science as an institution or organised social activity needs ethos that make scientists work in a way that serves the goal of increasing scientific knowledge. He identifies four such norms, communism because scientific knowledge is not private property and they must share their findings with the scientific community. Universalism, the truth or falsity of scientific knowledge is judged by universal, objective criteria and not by the particular race or sex of the scientist who produces it. Disinterestedness, the means being committed to discovering knowledge for its own sake by publishing their findings for others to check their claims. Organised scepticism, the fact that no knowledge clam is sacred. Every idea is open to questioning, criticism and objective investigation. By contrast despite Popper’s view of science as an open and critical, some others argue that science itself can be seen as a self-sustaining or closed system of beliefs. For example, Polanyi argues that all belief systems reject fundamental challenges to their knowledge claims; science is no different, as the case of Dr Velikovsky indicates. One example for scientist’s refusal even to consider such challenges comes from a historian of science. Kuhn argues that a mature science such as geology, biology or physics is based on a set of shared assumptions that he calls a paradigm. This tells the scientist what reality is like, the problems to study, and what methods and equipment to use. Scientific education and training is a process of being socialised into faith in the truth of the paradigm,...
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