My Philosophy of Science Activity
Read through the information below, and then plot your position on the grid. Meet with your group and compare positions. Explain to your group why you placed yourself in the position you chose.
Rationalism (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rationalism)
In philosophy and in its broadest sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" (Lacey, 286). In more technical terms it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive" (Bourke, 263). Different degrees of emphasis on this method or theory lead to a range of rationalist standpoints, from the moderate position "that reason has precedence over other ways of acquiring knowledge" to the radical position that reason is "the unique path to knowledge" (Audi, 771).
In various contexts, the appeal to reason is contrasted with revelation, as in religion, or with emotion and feeling, as in ethics. In philosophy, however, reason is more often contrasted with the senses, including introspection but not intuition (Lacey, 286).
Within the Western philosophical tradition, "rationalism begins with the Eleatics, Pythagoreans, and Plato, whose theory of the self-sufficiency of reason became the leitmotif of Neoplatonism and idealism" (Runes, 263). Since the Enlightenment, rationalism is usually associated with the introduction of mathematical methods into philosophy, as in Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza (Bourke, 263). This is commonly called continental rationalism, because it was predominant in the continental schools of Europe, whereas in Britain empiricism dominated.
Rationalism is often contrasted with this view known as empiricism. Taken very broadly these views are not mutually exclusive, since a philosopher can be both rationalist and empiricist (Lacey, 286–287). Taken to extremes the empiricist view holds that all ideas come to us through experience, either through the five external senses or through such inner sensations as pain and pleasure, and thus that knowledge is essentially based on or derived from experience. At issue is the fundamental source of human knowledge, and the proper techniques for verifying what we think we know (see Epistemology).
Proponents of some varieties of rationalism argue that, starting with foundational basic principles, like the axioms of geometry, one could deductively derive the rest of all possible knowledge. The philosophers who held this view most clearly were Baruch Spinoza and Gottfried Leibniz, whose attempts to grapple with the epistemological and metaphysical problems raised by Descartes led to a development of the fundamental approach of rationalism. Both Spinoza and Leibniz asserted that, in principle, all knowledge, including scientific knowledge, could be gained through the use of reason alone, though they both observed that this was not possible in practice for human beings except in specific areas such as mathematics. On the other hand, Leibniz admitted that "we are all mere Empirics in three fourths of our actions" (Monadology § 28, cited in Audi, 772).
Realism (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realism)
Scientific realism and instrumentalism
Scientific realism is the view that the universe really is as explained by scientific statements. Realists hold that things like electrons and magnetic fields actually exist. In contrast to realism, instrumentalism holds that our perceptions, scientific ideas and theories do not necessarily reflect the real world accurately, but are useful instruments to explain, predict and control our experiences. To an instrumentalist, electrons and magnetic fields are convenient ideas that may or may not actually exist. For instrumentalists, the empirical method is used to do no more than show that theories are consistent with observations. Instrumentalism is largely based on John Dewey's philosophy and, more generally, pragmatism, which was influenced by philosophers such as William James and Charles Sanders Peirce
Naturalism (Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naturalism_%28philosophy%29 )
Naturalism is any of several philosophical stances, typically those descended from materialism and pragmatism, that do not distinguish the supernatural from nature. Naturalism does not necessarily claim that phenomena or hypotheses commonly labeled as supernatural do not exist or are wrong, but insists that all phenomena and hypotheses can be studied by the same methods and therefore anything considered supernatural is either nonexistent, unknowable, or not inherently different from natural phenomena or hypotheses.
Any method of inquiry or investigation or any procedure for gaining knowledge that limits itself to natural, physical, and material approaches and explanations can be described as naturalistic.
Many modern philosophers of science use the terms methodological naturalism or scientific naturalism to refer to the long standing convention in science of the scientific method, which makes the methodologicalobservable events in nature are explained only by natural causes, without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural, and so considers supernatural explanations for such events to be outside science. They contrast this with the approach known as ontological naturalism or metaphysical naturalism, which refers to the metaphysical belief that the natural world (including the universe) is all that exists, and therefore nothing supernatural exists.
This distinction between approaches to the philosophy of naturalism is made by philosophers supporting science and evolution in the creation–evolution controversy to counter the tendency of some proponents of Creationism or intelligent design to refer to methodological naturalism as scientific materialism or as methodological materialism and conflate it with metaphysical naturalism to support their claim that modern science is atheistic. They contrast this with their preferred approach of a revived natural philosophy which welcomes supernatural explanations for natural phenomena and supports "theistic science" or pseudoscience.
"The horizontal axis represents a continuum of positions about the nature of processes of theory development. Rationalists (on the left) claim that reason, combined with 'facts,' is essential in science. Naturalists, meanwhile, also recognize such influences as human psychology, sociology, gender, etc. on knowledge building. On the vertical axis, Realists claim that products (such as laws & theories) of knowledge building represent reality, while Anti-realists claim that knowledge is a convenient social construction. Combining the two axes, we can imagine people holding different positions within the grid; such as Rational-Realists, for example — who would assert that methods of science are highly logical and systematic and lead to claims that match reality. The opposite view would be that of Natural-Antirealists, who would insist that methods of science are highly idiosyncratic and situated (including through influences by cultural, economic and psychological factors, for example) and lead to claims that don't necessarily match reality but are accepted by the majority of scientists. " (Source: http://leo.oise.utoronto.ca/~lbencze/NoSTEd.html )