Higher seminar in the Philosophy of Science: Peter Vickers (Durham)
Date: Thursday 24 March 2022
Time: 13.15 – 15.00
Identifying Future-Proof Science
My forthcoming book Identifying Future-Proof Science argues that we can confidently identify many scientific claims that are future-proof: they will last forever (so long as science continues). Examples include the evolution of human beings from fish, and the fact that the Milky Way is a spiral galaxy. But how should we go about identifying future-proof science? This appears to be a new question for philosophers of science, and not an unimportant one. It is argued that the best way to identify future-proof science is to avoid any attempt to analyse the relevant first-order scientific evidence, instead focusing purely on second-order evidence. Specifically, a scientific claim is future-proof when the relevant scientific community is large, international, and diverse, and at least 95% of that community would describe the claim as an established scientific fact. In the entire history of science, no claim meeting these criteria has ever been overturned, despite enormous opportunity for that to happen (were it ever going to happen). There are important consequences for school education: If this is indeed the way to identify future-proof science, then the vast majority of school-leavers will have hardly any of the requisite skills, since schools systems around the world completely neglect to teach children how to judge the second-order evidence for scientific claims.
Last updated: March 10, 2022
Source: Department of Philosophy