The misrepresentation of science by philosophers and teachers of science

Synthese 80 (1):107 - 119 (1989)
Abstract
In education there is a concern that science teachers misrepresent the nature of science to students. An assumption that is implicit in this concern is that science teachers should be teaching the philosophy of science as it is understood by philosophers. This paper argues that both philosophers and science teachers misrepresent science when they engage in their respective disciplines, and it is evident the two misrepresentations are of different types. In philosophy, the misrepresentation is of a philosophical-epistemological nature where advocates of particular views maintain that advocates of other views misinterpret the nature of science. In education, the misrepresentation is of a cognitive, teaching nature where teachers'' practical interpretations are not congruent with philosophers'' interpretations of science. The discrepancy that exists between the two misrepresentations is due to the intentions of the two disciplines, and assuming that science teachers should teach a philosophically coherent interpretation of the nature of science is an over-simplification of the problem. The concepts of espoused theories and theories-in-use are used to link the two interpretations of science and provide suggestions for future research that may help clarify misrepresentations of science in science education.
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