A.THE HYPOTHETICO-DEDUCTIVE METHOD

If we have to solve a difficult task, we always use a method (for example, when we have to assemble an Ikea wardrobe). Four centuries ago, European men realized that if we do things methodically, the process can be very efficient. How would you estimate/count how many trees there are in a forest?

There are many different methods, but the most famous is the scientific method. Because of science, human beings have got a knowledge about our world more rational than religious or mythical knowledge. This method includes experimental observation and mathematization of reality. So, science can describe how the world is and make predictions.

The hypothetico-deductive model or method is the scientific method. According to it, scientific inquiry proceeds by formulating a hypothesis in a form that could conceivably be falsified by a test on observable data. A test that could and does run contrary to predictions of the hypothesis is taken as a falsification of the hypothesis. A test that could but does not run contrary to the hypothesis corroborates the theory. It is then proposed to compare the explanatory value of competing hypotheses by testing how stringently they are corroborated by their predictions.[1]

So, it is hypothetical because we make a guess (called a hypothesis) about what might be true, and we it also deductive because we suppose and try to predict the consequences or results from our hypothesis.

Semmelweis was a doctor now known as an early pioneer of antiseptic procedures. Described as the “savior of mothers”, Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection. Puerperal fever was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal, with mortality at 10%–35%. Semmelweis proposed the practice of washing hands with chlorinated lime solutions. But he was also very important because he was one of the first scientist who used and designed the hypothetico-deductive method.

Science always begins because someone makes an important question (like philosophy does too). This is what philosophy and science have in common.  In the case of Semmelweis, the question was “Why did more women die in the left side of the hospital?”. This question is crucial and vital, but nobody had asked it before him.  *(Sometimes scientists have in their minds really absurd questions. The Ig Nobel Prizes are a kind of parody of the Nobel prizes reward foreign scientific studies, such as psychologists trained pigeons to distinguish paintings by Picasso and Monet, or a doctor of the University of Sydney studied the belly button lint..). If you feel curiosity, you can read more in this link: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anexo:Galardonados_con_el_premio_Ig_Nobel These two areas also share some characteristics of “logos” (the rational thought): both are critical, innovative, individual and logical.

B.DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PHILOSOPHY AND SCIENCE

There are many differences between philosophy and science. We are going to study only four:

1) First of all, philosophical statements (assertions, affirmations) are not falsifiable. This means that any scientific statement must be corroborated or verified by experience. But philosophical statements (such as “if this does not kill me, it will make me stronger” Nietzsche, or “what we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence”, Wittgenstein) are not refutable by experience.

*A statement is called falsifiable if it is possible to conceive of an observation or an argument which negates the statement in question. In this sense, falsify is synonymous with nullify, meaning to invalidate or “show to be false”.

For example, by the problem of induction, no number of confirming observations can verify a universal generalization, such as “All swans are white”, since it is logically possible to falsify it by observing a single black swan. Thus, the term falsifiability is sometimes synonymous to testability.

2) Secondly, science makes predictions, but philosophy doesn’t. A scientist can predict the trajectory of an asteroid with absolute precision. He can predict the evolution of an epidemic too. But the trajectory of a lie is not so clear. And that’s simply because men are free.

3) Third, there is also a difference between the philosopher’s and scientist’s attitude. The scientist is concerned about the measurable. Science has to explain and translate everything into the language of mathematics. The scientist must make measurements, statistics, surveys, inquiries, etc. However the philosopher is not concerned only to quantify the reality (to measure the reality). Philosophy deals with things which are hardly measurable (philosophical statements or philosophical reflections).

As a result of this desire to measure, science provides data. But philosophy does not provide data. Philosophy gives us a special ability to understand these data, relate (connect) to each other and determine what they mean to us.

So, a good definition of “philosophy” is: philosophize is to find meaning or sense where we usually only see things and objects that apparently do not have a special relevance or importance.

4) The last difference between philosophy and science is their relation with technology. Science generates (produces) technology, but philosophy does not. This difference is essential. Nowadays science is very appreciated because of the multitude of techniques (technologies) and devices (equipments) that creates. These machines have become part of our lifes and they constitute and establish our way of being in the world.

What does “technology is a way of our being-in-the-worldmean? Heidegger said that, and this was a very important idea and thesis. Maybe you can understand what Heidegger tried to explain if you are able to understand this drawing by Quino.

In the Ancient Greece, science was appreciated because it provided knowledge about the world. So, science had an important value and it was considered a theoretical activity. Science was used in order to satisfy our innate curiosity, for example, studying and investigating about the stars. Nowadays, however, if a scientist studies something, everybody will ask “What can you do using this knowledge?” or “How can your investigation increase my power?”. Science is important now because of its use and application: the technology. What does it mean? The meaning of science is inventing and creating new apparatus and machines… Science must be useful, it must create “useful things”. For example, smartphones have changed our life and our perception of the world.

The main idea is this: science and technology are used to increase our power and manipulate (change) reality. But sometimes this manipulation of reality can be very dangerous or immoral.

Scientists study theoretically an aspect of reality. After that, scientists find some practical applications from his theoretical investigation, such as mobile phones or trains. It’s interesting to think about those scientists who make an investigation but they don’t know what kind of technology will be generated from their investigation. This is what happened with the atomic bomb. Scientists like Einstein, who had investigated this, were horrified because of the usefulness of their work.

However, philosophy does not generate technology. It does not provide technical machines or devices. So people usually say that philosophy is useless. And from this point of view, it is true: philosophy does not give us a huge power over nature, nor on other humans. But it is used to limit critically that power. Philosophy is a way to learn what we can do with that power. It helps us to be aware it.

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