8.9 Conclusions: What Science Can and Cannot Provide

We have seen in this chapter that science is an evolving creature: from our opening survey of its ancient and medieval history, to its explosion in the 17th century, to contemporary concerns about its dependence upon the paradigms of its time and questions about whether or not we should consider it as giving us “reality.”  In the end, the success of science is less indebted to its ability to reach the “truth” and far more indebted to its practicality.  Science works.  It opened up the globe to explorers.  It gives us remarkable tools and technologies for mastering nature and plumbing its secrets.  It feeds the inventiveness of creators and entrepreneurs.  On the other hand, it might kill us. The scientific enterprise can rightly be accused of pushing technologies forward without serious regard to their ethical implications. Nuclear weapons, the acceleration of climate change, the hideous exploitation of animals in factory farms… all of these came from advances in science and technology. Yet we always hope that problems like these will be solved by new discoveries, new technologies that give us a safer and better world. They may be so solved if we have time.


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PPSC PHI 1011: The Philosopher's Quest by Daniel G. Shaw, Ph.D. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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