Are there limits to the scientific enterprise?
Science represents one of the most successful of humanity's achievements but the philosophical basis of this activity has provoked much debate. Karl Popper claimed that the important criterion rested with the Falsification Principle in which statements could, in principle, be shown to be erroneous. Later, Thomas Kuhn drew attention to the way in which scientific ideas are propagated with normal science depending on a set of accepted principles and actions, whereas revolutionary science involved discrepant examples that could lead to a paradigm shift and a new way of thinking.
A scientist himself, John Dore, our discussion leader, will attempt to present an analysis of the way that science is actually done and to re-consider whether either of these viewpoints represents an accurate picture of what the practice of science involves.
We shall see that there are vast differences even within the realm of the physical sciences itself as to what constitutes knowledge (energy conservation, molecular interactions, fundamental particles and black holes).
Development in the biological sciences depends on a much less rigorous establishment of ideas and the human sciences engage in concepts, which are themselves open to question with issues such as psyche and consciousness almost impossible to address.
So, is science progressive? Is it goal-oriented in the sense that we are always approaching a better explanation of the world we live in? Are there questions that we cannot or possibly should not address? Where are the limits, conceptual, practical, sociological and philosophical, if they exist at all?