Nov 20, 2009

Prathamesh's reply to the Philosophy of Science Assignment

A.Can Received beliefs be considered as the backbone on the present studies?
According to Kuhn, some beliefs are taken to be granted from the past scientific theories. These beliefs are then considered to be as the backbone of the present scientific world. These theories are applicable to each & every individual in that particular field. The received beliefs must be firm enough to create a deep impact on the present individuals. It must prove the individual to accept it for approving & disqualifying other things. Received beliefs can capture a strong hold on the mind only when it makes the person think its importance, & tries to prove other arguments wrong.

Here the scientific community may mean as the community of people who are involved in developing new & fundamental laws of science. These, community cannot arbitrarily make laws on their own, to prove them they have to show proofs supporting them. But as the proofs mainly contain a part of past theories, it can be said that the proof given by the new community is slightly based on the past beliefs. For e.g.: Einstein’s ‘Special Theory of Relativity”. He used the Galilean theory of “addition of velocities” to be right as well as Michelson-Morley’s theory that the “light did not appear to have velocities” . He thus, assumed both the theories to be right & than formulate the theories to overcome the laps in both the theories. Thus his, theory contains an assumption that light has a constant velocity.

The students use these received beliefs to tackle the problems in front of them, but these received beliefs loose their hold when the students start their higher studies in a particular filed. For e.g.: Newtonian physics is considered as to be the firm base of physics for the high school, even though it has its own weak points. Some concepts of ‘frames of reference’ are proved to be false when the whole system (universe) is seen from a point outside it. Each & every particle is in non-uniform motion. The motions considered to be uniform have some or the other kind of loss in it, which is immaterial to us at a particular instant. Things cannot be accurate, they can be precise. Accuracy depends upon the measurement techniques that we use. More sensitive the measurement tool, more the level of accuracy is obtained. The Newtonian laws have a deep impact on the high school students. As they are used to these laws they use them in their problem solving tactics. Hence, I agree to Kuhn’s first point (including subpoints).