Popper or Kuhn: Truth and the progress of science

Deagon, Alex (2013) Popper or Kuhn: Truth and the progress of science. In Perspectives on Progress Conference, 27-29 November 2013, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld. (Unpublished)


The questions of whether science pursues truth as correspondence to reality and whether science in fact progresses towards attaining a truthful understanding of physical reality are fundamental and contested in the philosophy of science. On one side of the debate stands Popper, who argues that science is objective, necessarily assumes a correspondence theory of truth, and inevitably progresses toward truth as physical theories develop, gaining a more truthful understanding of reality through progressively more sophisticated empirical analysis. Conversely Kuhn, influenced by postmodern philosophy, argues that ultimate truth cannot be attained since no objective metaphysical reality exists and it cannot be known, and consequently the notion of scientific objectivity and "progress" is a myth, marred by philosophical and ideological value judgments. Ultimately, Kuhn reduces so-called scientific progress through the adoption of successive paradigms to leaps of "faith". This paper seeks a reconciliation of the two extremes, arguing that Popper is correct in the sense that science assumes a correspondence theory of truth and may progress toward truth as physical theories develop, while simultaneously acknowledging with Kuhn that science is not purely objective and free of value judgments. The notion of faith is also critical, for it was the acknowledgement of God's existence as the creator and instituter of observable natural laws which allowed the development of science and the scientific method in the first place. Therefore, accepting and synthesising the contentions that science is to some extent founded on faith, assumes and progresses toward truth, and is subject to value judgments is necessary for the progress of science.

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ID Code: 93771
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2013 The Author(s)
Deposited On: 16 Mar 2016 00:34
Last Modified: 20 Mar 2016 04:40

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