Philosophy of Science (and Beyond)

Science is not a directed, steady march from a starting point of pure ignorance to a and endpoint of absolute knowledge. There is no scientific method that guarantees progress (especially not the “Scientific Method”), progress actually happens through several and considerably more anarchic paths; as Paul Feyerabend said: “Anything Goes”. Furthermore, to paraphrase philosopher Quill Kukla, in addition to knowledge, Science creates and maintains various kinds and levels of ignorance as a byproduct. Thinking about how we do science and especially what we are trying to achieve is a much more sane approach than the Nike approach to science, Just Do It.

This applies more broadly than just to science and academia: what are we trying to achieve as organizations of different kinds, as individuals, as society. Even if we had a method that guaranteed some kind of progress is does not necessarily guarantee we will achieve our goals over the long term. We need to constantly assess not only our absolute and relative progress, but our process, and whether the ignorance we are fostering is acceptable and for how long.

-- caetano