Along this method there are lots of perceptions which are made, such as sense perception or induction, which may limit this method. What I will try to analyze along this essay is if the scientific method allows us or not to uncover truth. In order to do so, I will analyze whether the scientific method gives us absolute or provisional truth and how it gives us that truth. To start with, the scientific method can allow us to uncover truth. It is needed to say that it allow us to uncover provisional truth.
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Truth can be provisional because we accept it may change over time, as new discoveries are made and the supposedly “truth” is no longer but it’s replaced by another and new “truth”. We accept one statement as true or not according to its degree of objectivity. Scientific method recollects empirical evidence, which is measurable and comparable and allows for the application of consistency tests. The application of consistency tests reduces the impact of subjectivity and the limitations of sense perception in the recollection of evidence.
This allows us to construct explanations that are objective enough for society to define these explanations as provisional truth. Furthermore, as the scientific method is a very rigorous and complex method. Scientists do observation, formulation of a hypothesis, experimentation, they reach a conclusion and they then communicate and verify this conclusion. These steps are followed thousands of times, in order to be as objective as possible and in order to prove or create a theory.
But these steps are followed not by just a scientist but by many, under different circumstances and places, again in order to be as objective as possible. All this repetition of the steps and the analysis made by lots of different scientist allows the scientific method to be, in part, objective and, in consequence, to give us a provisional truth. Finally, we can say that natural sciences objective is to build up provisional truths which are accepted by society and which predict future phenomena but not to build up absolute truth.
During all times there have been many theories about evolution, which were replaced one by another and, the last accepted one is Darwin’s but before his theory there had been others theories of evolution which were “true”, so the ideal of the scientific method is to allow us to uncover provisional truth, as we know there are going to be, afterwards, new theories or changes in older ones. On the other hand, the scientific method doesn’t allow us to uncover absolute truth. When scientists observe, experiment, formulate a hypothesis or reach a conclusion, there are, mainly, two ways of knowing used: sense perception and intuition.
These ways of knowing have limitations which don’t allow the scientific method to give us absolute truth. As regards sense perception, our senses have a limited range and they are selective. This means they can’t perceive everything which goes around us and that out of what we perceive (which isn’t everything) we remember or pay attention to some stimuli, according to our expectations, interests, culture and past experiences. Furthermore, as our senses are limited and there is variability in the ability of individuals to capture stimuli, we’ll never be sure if what we perceive is the real reality or just an interpretation of it.
As regards induction, which is when from a variety of particular premises we get to a general conclusion we also have some limitations: As there’s no magical number that tells us how many people or things we’ve got to analyze to reach a generalization, we’ll never be sure that a generalization is right. Also because we need just one case in order to contradict a generalization, so we’ll never be sure a theory is right, as there’s nobody who may be able to analyze each particular case in every part of the world.
So the scientific method is limited, as it doesn’t analyze each particular case and as, the observation made by scientists is limited. So, as from the beginning of the scientific method (observation) there are limitations, it will probably have failures along all the method. Secondly, there’s a limit to what science can explain. There are things which science can’t explain. As the scientific method uses empiricism and rationality to give us truth, it denies the mystical knowledge, such as the religious beliefs.
So how can we say that scientific method allows us to uncover truth if it denies many things, such as religious beliefs, which many people believe are true? As we’ve said before it gives us provisional truth, as it gives us about natural or social sciences, but not absolute, as it doesn’t give us truth about religion or any similar theme. Moreover, as sciences are based on assumptions, looking for patterns in nature assumes nature is regular. Here we can clearly see that scientific method doesn’t allow us to uncover absolute truth, as nature evolves and changes, so it will never be regular.
Finally, the scientific method doesn’t allow us to get truth, as there are some scientists which first get to a conclusion or make a hypothesis and then look for the information or patterns which suit their conclusion or hypothesis. So, they may look for patterns in nature which only fit with their conclusion or, in order to fit their conclusions, they’ll avoid certain features or patterns of nature which will contradict or which won’t fit to their hypothesis. So, this idea together with the limitations that sense perception and induction has, makes the scientific method unable to uncover truth.
All in all, I strongly believe that scientific method can’t allow us to uncover truth, if we consider truth as absolute. But what is necessary to clarify is that there’s not any way of knowing which will allow us to uncover absolute truth. In this case we should take truth as a provisional concept and, if we take truth as provisional then the scientific method allows us to uncover it, as it takes us to discover truth in a provisional way. We can then say that the scientific method can take us to a provisional truth, but that it will never lead us to absolute truth, as it will always have some limitation.