Articulating the Aims of Science

Nature 265 (January 6):2 (1977)
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Abstract

Most scientists and philosophers of science take for granted the standard empiricist view that the basic intellectual aim of science is truth per se. But this seriously misrepresents the aims of scieince. Actually, science seeks explanatory truth and, more generally, important truth. Problematic metaphysical and value assumptions are inherent in the real aims of science. Precisely because these aims are profoundly problematic, they need to be articulated, imaginatively explored and critically assesseed, in order to improve them, as an integral part of science itself. This was how Einstein did science in developing the special and general theories of relativity. Science needs to put a new aim-oriented empiricist methodology into practice.

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Nicholas Maxwell
University College London

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