Posts Tagged ‘ logic

The Limits of Science

Apropos of Kevin’s and my recent podcast, an article on the limits of science.

No rulers! Except for measurement! Science is pretty sweet, though.

In the podcast, we discuss logic as an essential tool in determining how one’s beliefs track reality. However, perfect Aristotelian logic can generate perfectly crafted non-sense given incorrect premises.

Similarly, science is the best means of testing hypothesis and incrementally bringing beliefs about reality in line with the natural universe (a.k.a., the universe).

Regardless of how rigorously one pursues knowledge with the correct application of the methods of science, and regardless of how large the body of scientific understanding becomes, it can never answer the questions it is so frequently purported to answer:
“Is this new drug safe?” “Is that amount of pollution too high?” “Are wages for those workers too low?” “What’s the minimum number of days of paid vacation that workers should get annually?”

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These questions are not, exclusively, about the objective world. They incorporate the subjective; they can’t be answered except by each individual for her own circumstances. Appeals to evidence can be made to persuade someone to take action, but there is no amount of evidence that legitimizes coercion in these matters. Any appeal to science in the name of politics, or any other form of violence, is an appeal made on false premises and an indication of intellectual, if not moral, corruption.

Update: I just figured out that I could do this, here’s an embed to Kevin’s and my podcast on the limitations of logic.

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