• Benj96
    611
    Scientific method is no doubt one of our greatest tools for eliciting consistency in the natural world. However it seems there are several flaws with the premise of objective measurement.

    Scientific method requires a subject - the observer/ measurer and the object - that which is measured.
    The ideal object has no restrictions on how it can be measured. The ideal subject is an object (to maximise the set of things for which scientific method can be applied to - ie it’s usefulness at large).

    However subjects cannot be objects due to ethics. Subjects have inalienable rights that dictate how a scientific investigation must be carried out. The need to maintain a subjects wellbeing and safety to the highest degree possible introduces bias on what decisions are made, when and how.

    No doubt the most efficient way and perhaps even the only way to determine something objectively is often also the most grossly immoral and thus is not performed.

    The attributes of a subject have been increasingly applied through campaigning and change in societal conscience towards animals, the environment etc in that more laws, regulations and protections are placed on their behalf ie the environment has rights, animals have more and more rights (albeit slowly).

    We realised this necessity with the ongoing debates about climate change and the idea that the health of our planet is conducive to our own and therefore we must extend a sort of “citizenship” to the land we exist on. In this way there has been a shift in the paradigm of scientific methods use.

    If we must continue to design experiments based on unbiased objective goals and yet must contend with laws preventing certain lines of thinking or procedures do we not cripple our best tool for investigation over time?

    Lastly, if scientific objectivity is the premise that we can only accept to be true that which can be objectively measured by anyone anywhere consistently with the same outcome, what does this mean for our individuality? Does scientific method fail when dealing with singular things, the ultra rare or the completely unique?
  • Antony Nickles
    517
    Aren't we--as you point out with global warming--strictly talking about the use of the scientific method and the limits upon that (or, as it were, the treatment of its objects)? Only to ask, is there anything that would change the method itself? As you say: with anyone (competent) running the same experiment, we get the same results (or is there something I'm missing about science, which could easily be true). And then what would be a specific example of a change in the method? I ask for clarification as my understanding (from Cavell) is that it is the consistency of science based on its method that gives a fact its stature, its certainty, its ability to be predetermined, its reliability, its foundational structure to build upon, in short, its "objectivity" (rather than the measuring of a thing-in-itself--as shown by, for example, Thomas Kuhn's exceptions undermining the traditional concept of an object). That it is the consistency of the fundamental process which is paramount.

    This leaves us simply with limits on what we can experiment on and what acts we can conduct, which is interesting nevertheless, and still leaves us with the disappointment of being kept from knowledge, closed off from part of the world (imagined as existing beyond or outside morality). Science being constrained by moral considerations seems unfair, or, unscientific (its method being without the need for any particular human, or, it then seems, humanity entirely).

    But, as in most moral considerations, we have concessions. We have waivers and volunteers in medicine, and, I only imagine, consent of authority to damage the natural world if it is returned to its previous state; as a war could be deemed just to allow someone to kill without being judged to have broken an oath not to. By analogy, the importance (necessity) of the knowledge would outweigh the cost. And perhaps the thing is that our modern moral judgment doesn't allow for this wider calculus (economics?); we now narrowly judge the act alone removed from any context, which modern moral philosophy (Nietschze, Wittgenstein, etc.) would say actually removes the (messy) "human"--in a sense, attempting to turn morality into a kind of science. And, I take it, another concern would be the (arbitrary or all-encompassing) framing of the subject, making it rarified without equal weight given to what might exempt the act (and actor) from judgment.
  • Agent Smith
    4.4k
    The way I see it, the subject matter of science is such that consciounsness, hence pain & joy, is irrelevant. You don't get special treatment from gravity because you can suffer.

    Zoom down now to the quantum world (Martin Reese) and consciousness becomes important or so they say.

    A Theory of Everything (a union of the micro & macro world) is when subjectivity and objectivity are reconciled!
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