Tuesday, November 11, 2014

550: The Rationality of Science...

Concerning The Human Brain Project, which I mentioned in my previous lecture, an open letter was sent on 7th July 2014 to the European Commission by 154 European researchers (currently 595 signatures)
 complaining of an overly narrow approach which they claim gives a significant risk that it will fail to meet its goals, and threatening to boycott the project, which means waisting millions of euros of research money.
Central to this controversy are changes made by Henry Markram at the Swiss Federal Institute for Technology to sideline cognitive scientists who study high level brain functions, such as thought and behaviour. 
Peter Dayan, director of computational neuroscience at University College, London, argues that the goal of a large-scale simulation of the brain is radically premature.
We saw that in some sense reality can be mathematical, but when it comes to mathematical models there still are a lot of non computational issues involved.
What does this mean for the philosopher of science? What position should he take. It is easy to say, that science is right, but in what sense?
Is it possible to unveil the source of scientific rationality? And can this rationality only be defined by formal systems like logic and mathematics?
The main stream of traditional philosophy of science starts off with a normative or prescriptive attitude. It seeks rationality in science, i.e, it looks for the logic and reasoning behind scientific acts.
Scientific rationality depends on the goals of science. It is therefore the first task of the philosopher of science to uncover these goals.
Thus we could find an answer to the question why science is right. If the goals are known, the philosopher can try to answer the question as to whether or not the proposed means for achieving them are appropriate, that is,  rational.
Most traditional philosophers of science have taken for granted the assumption that the main goal of science is reaching comprehensive truth about the world. The goal of explaining natural phenomena is related to the this goal.
Truth is a property of statements. Therefore, assigning to science the goal of truth means that the task of science is to generate true statements about the world.  
Hence, the rules of propositional calculus or predicate calculus, of classical logic, are the natural candidates for showing us how to do good science. 
If we see the task of science as generating statements which are highly probable rather than true, then some theory of probabilistic inference will guide us in doing science rationally. 
Thus, deductive, inductive or probabilistic inference schemes will be the basis for rational acts in science. This may sound very attractive as an explanation of scientific rationality, but is it the whole story?
Is science indeed a truth-seeking system, or does science have other goals too?  If we take declarations of the scientists themselves throughout the history of science, we also learn of other goals.
The goal of predicting natural events and phenomena or the goal of advancing technology and mastering nature.
A more radical approach is to look for the goals of science in the realm of the subconscious,  to look for collective motives which scientists are not aware of.
Scientists declare that they seek comprehensive truth, objectivity, etc., but their real motives may be psychological or social.
You could say, for example, that the goal of the scientific community is to arrive at a consensus, rather than truth; this goal of consensus is what distinguishes science from other human activities.
You might come to such conclusions, when you read about the motives of the man behind “The Human Brain Project”,  Henry Markram, when he said in an interview with the New York Times, referring to his autistic son, Kai:
“You have a child with autism, and you, even being a neuroscientist, have no clue at all about what you could do.”
Thank you… ^_^..the floor is yours…
Main Sources:
MacMillan The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2nd edition
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 1995
A Historical Introduction to the Philosophy of Science, John Losee (2001)

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, T. Kuhn (1962)

The Discussion

[13:15] paddikin: claps
[13:15] Gemma Cleanslate: that one was tough!!!
[13:15] Gemma Cleanslate: needs more thought
[13:15] herman Bergson: I know Gemma
[13:16] herman Bergson: But the basic idea is...
[13:16] Bejiita Imako: interesting
[13:16] herman Bergson: is science based on some logic rationality or on other things or a mix
[13:17] Qwark Allen: other things can be financial issues
[13:17] Qwark Allen: related with whom is paying the research
[13:17] Gemma Cleanslate: and ethical questions also
[13:17] herman Bergson: in other words...what we call science today...it is about truth seeking or just big business....to put it bluntly
[13:17] paddikin: oooooooo
[13:17] paddikin: good
[13:18] Qwark Allen: i think a lot of the time its just a business, nothing l«related with science
[13:18] Qwark Allen: its getting more dogmatic then the church it self
[13:18] paddikin: but we discover things
[13:18] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:18] Gemma Cleanslate: well a a medical person you have to know that science saves a lot of lives
[13:18] science24: a mix is always the best answer even we don't know the reason
[13:19] Qwark Allen: yes true, but then instead of seeking the truth behind the new facts, they just try to fit it in the old paradigm
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: and makes living more easy for all of us
[13:19] herman Bergson: We do Paddikin ...but we patent it also immediately :-)
[13:19] Lizzy Pleides: and you can earn money with it
[13:19] paddikin:  ~~** lol **~~
[13:19] paddikin: for profit and must have
[13:19] Gemma Cleanslate: so it is a mix!!!!
[13:19] paddikin: yes
[13:19] herman Bergson: It is indeed, I think, Gemma...as Science said...
[13:20] paddikin: money and ideas don’t come together often
[13:20] science24: yea, but it's mainly for truth seeking , money is an outcome
[13:20] paddikin: good or evil
[13:20] paddikin: uses
[13:20] Qwark Allen: that was what was supposed to be, seeking the truth, then get the finances
[13:21] paddikin: smiles whose truth
[13:21] herman Bergson: That is an interesting issue to think about.....that science is...or shoudlbe only ....truth-seeking...
[13:21] paddikin: many argue truth so profit is next
[13:21] Qwark Allen: you are not going to prove, the part is financing you, its wrong!
[13:21] Gemma Cleanslate: wonders if it ever was
[13:21] paddikin: see adds take this and u get well but u got so may side effects OMG!
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:22] Bejiita Imako:
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: right!!!
[13:22] paddikin: profits
[13:22] science24: bad intention can transform its decent goal
[13:22] Gemma Cleanslate: but getting to mars is science
[13:22] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:22] paddikin: yes
[13:22] Qwark Allen: i can give lots examples of this
[13:22] herman Bergson: YEs it is Gemma and a total waist of resources ti is too :-)
[13:23] science24: paper-clip project is one of them
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: not so sure
[13:23] science24: not a waist 100 %
[13:23] herman Bergson: Getting to the moon was a political prestige project...
[13:23] Gemma Cleanslate: maybe
[13:23] herman Bergson: nothing to find there...what is there  on Mars to find?
[13:24] paddikin: and we wanted it too
[13:24] paddikin: back then
[13:24] paddikin: moon
[13:24] science24: it has its advantages , but they wasn't on purpose
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: that is what we don’t know yet herman what is on mars
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: or if we might need to go there some day
[13:24] paddikin: and at bottom of our oceans too
[13:24] paddikin: same as space
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: to save humankind from extinction
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: yes
[13:24] herman Bergson: we know Gemma...rocks and dust....of some kind....that is all
[13:24] Gemma Cleanslate: not us
[13:24] Bejiita Imako: would be cool if we could do like start trek someday
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: but great grandchildren
[13:25] science24: they discovered the carbon pucky balls =in space ;)
[13:25] paddikin: smiles
[13:25] science24: another form of carbon nano tubs
[13:25] paddikin: what is life then ???
[13:25] paddikin: breath
[13:25] science24: coincidence as I told you ;)
[13:25] paddikin: heart beat
[13:25] paddikin: ect
[13:25] Gemma Cleanslate: lots of stuff that we use today in our lives came from exploration preparation for going to the moon
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: interesting
[13:25] herman Bergson: ok...let's get back to science and its rationality :-))
[13:25] science24: not on purpose
[13:25] science24: LOL
[13:25] Bejiita Imako: lol
[13:25] science24: but it is a good thing
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: well that is the question
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: is that kind of exploration rational or not
[13:26] paddikin: yes
[13:26] herman Bergson: yes Gemma...that is always the argument....we profit form the spin offs of those projects :-)
[13:26] paddikin: we human are curtious
[13:26] Gemma Cleanslate: yes
[13:27] Bejiita Imako: very curious
[13:27] herman Bergson: But that is a bit silly in my opinion.....
[13:27] paddikin: silly or not that how we are
[13:27] herman Bergson: ok,,,granted....so we go to the moon :-)
[13:27] paddikin: nods
[13:27] herman Bergson: so true paddikin ^_^
[13:28] science24: curiousity is the motivation
[13:28] science24: included but not limited
[13:28] herman Bergson: I guess it is indeed :-)
[13:28] paddikin: and some time we just stumble on stuff no science
[13:28] Bejiita Imako: true
[13:28] Gemma Cleanslate: serendipity
[13:29] herman Bergson: a grave yard of Martians , maybe :-))
[13:29] Ciska Riverstone: can curiosity be rational only?
[13:29] paddikin: nope
[13:29] Gemma Cleanslate: I think so
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: some discoveries are actually mistakes, like vulcanized rubber
[13:29] Bejiita Imako: was forgotten experiment that turned out to be a revolution
[13:29] paddikin: crazy think they rational
[13:30] science24: as the US Kenedy said when they send the first man to the moon , we choose to work on big problems not because it's easy but because it s hard ;)
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: how about cern .. a 17mile tunnel in two countries
[13:30] herman Bergson: No Ciska..don’t think curiosity is a rational quality of homo sapiens...
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: rational??
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: must be
[13:30] Bejiita Imako: ah
[13:30] herman Bergson: it i just a drive of the organism..exploring its environment finding out how to survive
[13:30] Gemma Cleanslate: as a non scientist I think it all must be rational
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: right
[13:31] herman Bergson: I don’t think so Gemma....
[13:31] science24: CERN is the necleus of the internet you are using now ;)
[13:31] science24: it's not on purpose though
[13:31] science24: is it ?
[13:31] herman Bergson: Take for instance fraude in science...manipulating data....
[13:31] Gemma Cleanslate: that is bad science
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: yes cern made the ww
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: BAD
[13:32] Bejiita Imako: www
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: but
[13:32] herman Bergson: take individual rivalry....and competition among scientists
[13:32] science24: but it was supossed to study particles
[13:32] Gemma Cleanslate: there has always been fraud and always will be
[13:32] science24: not WWW
[13:33] science24: you are not sure where you will end up in science
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: arpanet is the structure CERN only made links and web browsers possible
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: the interface we use to use internet
[13:33] science24: you have just to close your eyes and jump in
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: internet itself come from USA
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: correct
[13:33] Bejiita Imako: ARPANET
[13:33] herman Bergson: Internet comes from DARPA eventually
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate GIGGLES!!
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: ...LOL...
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: even though Europe has better internet
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: that we do!!!!
[13:33] Gemma Cleanslate: and cheaper
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: tsk
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: not rational at all
[13:34] herman Bergsonherman Bergson smiles
[13:34] herman Bergson: I wont say a word to that Gemma :-))
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate GIGGLES!!
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: ...LOL...
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: no don’t
[13:34] science24: relativly rational ;)
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: ticks me off
[13:35] paddikin: hands Gemma a Halloween candy
[13:35] herman Bergson: Welll I guess it is a rational act to thank you all again for your participation today....:-)
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ LOL ♥
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: stale stuff
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:35] herman Bergson: Class dismissed...^_^
[13:35] paddikin: no fresh
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: YAY! (yay!)
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone: thank you herman
[13:35] Lizzy Pleides: thank you!
[13:35] Gemma Cleanslate: ok l
[13:35] paddikin: ♥ Thank Youuuuuuuuuu!! ♥
[13:35] paddikin: and all
[13:35] Ciska Riverstone: thanx folks
[13:35] Qwark Allen: AAHH!!!
[13:35] Qwark Allen: ::::::::: * E * X * C * E * L * L * E * N * T  * ::::::::::
[13:35] Bejiita Imako: awesome
[13:35] Qwark Allen: ¸¸.´ ¯¨.¸¸`** **´ ¸¸.¨¯` H E R MA N ´ ¯¨.¸¸`** **´ ¸¸.¨¯`

[13:35] paddikin: was very interesting

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